Next year, Westpac will add carbon tracking and also plans to use Open Banking to allow customers to connect non-Westpac accounts to the app to provide a complete view of their financial affairs, and potentially allow Westpac to convert them into products of its own.
It will also soon add a feature that will allow users to compare what they spend, such as energy bills, to similar groups of people.
“If you look at that capacity, it leads to a lot of stiffness,” said Chris de Bruin, Westpac’s general manager of consumer and business banking.
“Customers want simple, secure banking with content that’s relevant to them, and that obviously means what’s happening with their money and how it’s organized. Our customers want control and want to be in control of the data themselves.
Like other banks, Westpac stopped making wealth management and insurance products after the Hayne Royal Commission, but is considering how to provide digital advice if the laws are clarified.
“We are always working with customers to improve their [financial] position. It’s not wealth management advice, but we observe and monitor trends like everyone else,” said de Bruin.
“We don’t think it’s sustainable that the vast majority of Australians have no advice on what to do in the wealth space, and we think regulations need to change, so an offer of basic wealth comes back into play, to help customers.
“People need a little help figuring out how to feel better. If you budget and manage your expenses better, you can create a surplus.
“And in the current environment, where people are losing part of their discretionary budget, it is a challenge to continue saving. Our tools help save money and make them more aware of what’s going on with their money.
“When there is a surplus, we can help people get a better return, and the most basic is a term deposit. Beyond that, giving advice on what to do is a gap that needs to be filled.
Forrester, which has been benchmarking and ranking major banking apps for seven years, said in a report last week that only 21% of people “firmly believe” that their financial institution cares about their financial well-being.
“This is a missed opportunity for banks to show customers where they spend their money and how they can save more effectively, as well as offer effective debt management tools,” he said. .
“Banks should leverage financial and non-financial data to better understand a customer’s real-time financial situation and offer relevant debt and cash management tools.”
Forrester said Westpac’s app has the best search and chatbot features. Last month he was the lead investor in conversational AI software company Kasisto, which he plans to use to help develop a platform to make chatbots and smart assistants more efficient and widely used. .
Banks extend applications to discounts and offers. The ABC has a partnership with Little Birdie offering retail refund and reward options. The ABC has developed a “benefit finder” in its app to locate discounts and has also encouraged customers to change their lifestyles to more sustainable choices.
For example, in partnership with Amber Energy, CBA enables customers to access cheaper wholesale energy prices and switch uses when electricity is cheaper and greener.
As part of a new partnership with fintech Cogo, Westpac said it will help customers track their carbon footprint and make more environmentally friendly spending choices via a “Carbon Footprint Tracker” in the application from next year. CBA is also working with Cogo on similar functionality.