Banks must change for the digital age: Westpac

Creating a successful bank will require a major reworking of customer products says Westpac retail and business banking group executive Jason Yetton

Customer demand for mobile financial services and their appetite for new innovations are well ahead of the capabilities of many banks so the financial services sector must adapt, according to Westpac's group executive, retail and business banking, Jason Yetton.

In remarks prepared for a a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event today in Sydney, Yetton said that creating a successful bank for the digital era will require a “major reworking” of today’s operations including the products and solutions offered to customers.

“Products that cross traditional boundaries will be the norm. For instance, new products targeting retirees may combine travel and accommodation bookings, retirement income, insurance, multi-currency payments and foreign exchange,” he said.

Yetton said that product and distribution changes are having a profound impact on the way Westpac is run.

“For instance, we believe branches will continue to play an important role in the lives of our customers, but not in the traditional manner,” he said.

He said that Westpac is rolling out 150 Bank Now branches over the next three years.

First announced in December 2012, the Bank Now branches are designed to act as hubs for rural and regional Australians. At the time, the bank said that a third of its existing branches would be refurbished over the next three years.

The Bank Now branches feature HD videoconferencing and specialist mobile bankers.

In supported branches, when an SME comes into the branch and says it’s interested in a small business loan or another product, the customer is invited into a room and connected to an expert via videoconferencing.

According to Yetton, the age of face to face simple transactional banking is quickly coming to an end.

“We must meet the challenge of delivering quality service levels for our rural and regional customers in a way that is sustainable, and can be relied upon, over the long term,” he said.

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