A fast-approval paperless mortgage is among a range of digital enhancements announced by Westpac, which also include new features to its customer banking app and improved connectivity across the branch network.
Applicants will be able to gain unconditional approval for a new mortgage in as little as 10 minutes under the streamlined, secure process. The offer will initially be open to sole-applicant owner-occupier variable customers refinancing to Westpac’s Flexi First Option starting from the final quarter of 2022.
“We’ve used data and analytics to replace much of the paperwork and admin that’s in the mortgage process today,” said Richard Burton, managing director of Westpac’s mortgage business. “For our customers that means no more looking for pay slips, no more looking for bank or credit card statements – they just need to sign up and give us their consent to work with them.”
The bank plans to gradually roll out the product to its broader refinancing customer base, “particularly those customers where we’ve got strong data and we can make really good responsible lending and credit assessments,” said Burton, speaking to Westpac Wire ahead of the bank’s market update today.
The digital mortgage, to be available on the Westpac website and banking app, will use third-party data sources and advanced analytics to perform credit checks, verify financials and perform property valuations. Applicants will be required to have 20 per cent equity in the property and be on a PAYG income.
With customers increasingly using smartphones and laptops to do their banking – 92 per cent of all Westpac transactions are now digital – financial institutions need to keep pace with technological innovation or risk getting left behind. Banks also face growing competition from buy now, pay later platforms such as Afterpay and Zip.
“It’s really important that we continue to listen to our customers,” said Jason Hair, Westpac’s chief digital officer. “They’re giving us feedback on improvements and enhancements they want us to make and, more importantly, new products and services they want to see us bring to market, and today some of those are done in co-creation with our customers. They’ve told us that they want fast, secure, personalised experiences, beyond transactional capabilities.”
Westpac is rolling out additions to its banking app over coming months, including a partnership with fintech firm CoGo which will allow customers to track their carbon footprint and help them to make greener spending choices.
“Sustainability is a topic that our customers are increasingly leaning into and the partnership with CoGo will give them those insights into how their carbon footprint is tracking and things they can do about that,” Hair said.
Personal finance insights are being added, driven by the MoneyBrilliant app acquired by Westpac in December 2021. Customers will be able to monitor and categorise their expenses to better manage their cost of living, as well as view accounts from multiple financial institutions all from within the Westpac app. The app will also be rolled out to business customers over coming months.
With so much of our banking and shopping now being done online, it has become a fertile environment for scammers. Australians lost more than $2 billion to scams in 2021, according to a report from Australia’s consumer watchdog earlier in July.
In recognition of this threat, Westpac’s digital enhancements are backed by robust security features. The banking app uses technology to detect suspicious or unusual patterns on accounts, while customers can access a digital version of their card which has a dynamic CVC – which updates every 24 hours to make online purchases more secure. Customers can also block their card instantly via the app if they notice unusual activity, or if the card is lost or stolen.
Other developments are in the pipeline: “Behavioral biometrics learns how customers interact with our digital tools – it gets to know you and your digital identity so if someone that doesn’t look like you tries to access your banking it raises an alert and then we can do something about that,” Hair said. Technological advances in the banking sector in coming years were likely to focus on providing a more personalized service that was fast, seamless and secure, he added.
Meanwhile, Westpac is deploying new technology to enhance the connectivity of its branch network. For the first time, customers of any Westpac brand will be able to bank at any Westpac branch. This builds on the bank’s co-location strategy, which combines two Westpac Group brands under one roof. Over 20 branches have already been co-located in regional areas, with the Group reviewing opportunities for approximately 100 more over the next 18 months.
Westpac chief executive officer Peter King said the strategy “maintains a presence for customers and signals a long-term investment in these communities, while reducing footprint duplication in the same location.” King, along with Anthony Miller, chief executive of Westpac Institutional Bank, today provided a broader progress update from the bank.