Westpac’s next steps in becoming a digital-first bank

  • By Zilla Efrat

Westpac’s five million digitally active customers are set to enjoy a better digital banking experience, including a digital mortgage where they can gain unconditional approval in as little as 10 minutes.

The bank is also launching new features in the Westpac app and an enhanced digital strategy for branches to help customers bank anytime, anywhere. It is also reducing footprint duplication in certain locations.

Westpac's new digital mortgage will be available in the final quarter of the calendar year for new and existing owner-occupier sole applicants refinancing to Westpac’s Flexi First variable home loan. It will then be expanded to a range of other customers and mortgage products.

"This innovation is about digitising our end-to-end mortgage processing to make the time from application to unconditional approval easier and faster, with no paperwork,” Westpac Group CEO Peter King.

“We are starting by targeting new or existing owner-occupiers looking to refinance, but over time the benefits will be felt by more customers.”

Westpac is also improving service for branch customers through advancements in technology, so that for the first time, St.George, BankSA or Bank of Melbourne customers will be able to do their cash transactions at any Westpac branch. Westpac customers will be able to bank at any regional Westpac Group branch.

This builds on the ongoing program of co-locations where select branches are combined, bringing two Westpac Group brands together under one roof.

Westpac has already co-located 21 branches in key locations including Bega and Dubbo in New South Wales, Alice Springs and Darwin in the Northern Territory, and Port Pirie in South Australia.

It is currently reviewing opportunities to co-locate around 100 more branches over the next 18 months.

“The co-location approach enables us to move two branches into one single location in cases where the two buildings are located very close together,” says King.

“This maintains a physical presence for customers and signals a long-term investment in these communities while reducing footprint duplication in the same location,” Mr said.

The technology enhancements to better connect the branch network will be rolled out early next year.

Westpac is also adding several new digital features to the Westpac app which will be rolled out over the coming months.

One new feature is “track your spending” which gives customers the ability to track and categorise expenses to help manage the cost of living.

This includes new budgeting tools and the ability to view accounts from multiple financial institutions in the Westpac app.

Another new feature is the carbon footprint tracker. In partnership with sustainability fintech Cogo, Westpac will help customers track their carbon footprint and make more environmentally friendly spending choices.

Westpac is also rolling out its award-winning app to business customers making banking easier, faster and more secure.

King says these changes are being driven by customers who want banking services that are fast, secure, and personalised to meet their needs.

"Integrating new digital technology throughout Westpac's branches is a key component of the bank's customer service strategy, where soon, any St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA customer will be able to do their cash transactions at a Westpac branch and vice versa, for the first time,” he says.

"We are investing to create a digital-first bank, where customers can choose to interact with us through online channels from start to finish. We'll also continue to support customers seeking face-to-face service through our bankers and broker network."