In 2021, Westpac’s digital team embarked on a complete redesign of the banking app. Two years on, and that bold step has been vindicated with the app being recognised as the best in Australia by Forrester.
The bank came out on top in an evaluation of five leading banking apps by the research group, which has just published its findings in a report.
“This achievement has been a number of years in the making, dating back to a complete redesign and refresh of the app in 2021 after a lot of customer testing and research,” Jason Hair, Westpac’s chief digital officer, says in an interview.
“That rebuild allowed us to harness the power of partnerships and the ability to integrate those quickly into the app ecosystem,” Hair says, citing the acquisition of the money management app MoneyBrilliant in 2021.
While full of extra features and functionality, the key to the app’s success is its simplicity and intuitive design, Hair says. It’s also been built with security in mind. For example, the PayID function is easy to set up and use, giving customers a safer way to make digital payments over their phone.
Westpac’s work in the digital space comes in recognition that customers increasingly want to do their banking on their smartphones or online. The bank had 5.8 million digitally active customers in September 2023, up 6 per cent on the same month a year ago.
“The way customers do their banking has changed dramatically over the last few years,” Hair says. Where previously they would just do basic transactions on the app, now they’re increasingly asking for more functionality to help them manage their household budgets.
In response, Westpac has invested heavily to develop a suite of personal finance management tools.
The latest, to be rolled out soon, is a budgeting tool which allows customers to calculate their leftover spend each month based on their income, bills and savings targets.
Also available is the savings finder, which helps customers identify potential savings from their existing recurring payments for subscriptions and other expenses, and the bills calendar, which lets them log upcoming payments and receive an alert when they become due.
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Other digital features include the Carbon Footprint Tracker, where customers can track their estimated carbon footprint and gain insights to help make more environmentally friendly choices, and the bank’s partnership with ShopBack, which gives access to cashbacks from eligible purchases at participating retailers.
Westpac’s latest success builds on the bank’s rich history as a tech innovator. In 2013, it was among the first banks worldwide to roll-out contactless mobile payments, and was also a global pioneer in introducing a fingerprint sensor, known as TouchID, in 2014, to enable customers to securely sign into Westpac’s digital banking platform.
Looking forward, Hair says the bank will listen closely to its customers to continue to roll out enhancements to improve the digital experience, while not losing sight of safety and security as its top priority.