CBA unveils fourth generation mobile app


The Commonwealth Bank has released the latest major update to its industry-leading mobile banking app, touted by the bank’s retail banking services chief Angus Sullivan as the “most individually tailored and sophisticated adaptation of digital banking in Australia”.

The fourth-generation CommBank app, first released in 2013, appears to align with the bank’s increasing focus on personalisation across its digital offerings, with the app featuring a new customisable dashboard as well as several new ‘Smart Alerts’ and upgrades to its existing cashflow management features.

Speaking at the launch of the app, CBA’s chief digital officer Pete Steel said CBA had leveraged a combination of machine learning, deep data analytics and behavioural science to deliver “highly personalised smart banking features”, backed by the bank’s growing capabilities in data and artificial intelligence.

“The CommBank app is the first banking app in Australia that is completely personalised for each customer to help them better manage their overall finances. We help customers manage their cash flow, save for the future, and find financial rebates all in a really personalised, fresh experience,” Steel said.

“It’s a fresh new look and feel; it’s quite unbank-like. Combining functionality and the power of AI and data to bring things to customers’ attention quicker, better than ever before. It’s a revolutionary technology stack for us as well.”

The CommBank app boasts 5.6 million active users – boosted by more than half a million new users since July 2018. Upwards of 7 million users now regularly interface with CBA’s digital channels, representing about a third of Australia’s adult population.

While personalisation was one of the major objectives of the app refresh – making it “customisable like an iPhone and personalised like Netflix recommendations,” Steel said – CBA said it had responded to customer demands to offer more in-app money management features in an effort to improve financial wellbeing.

“The app is designed to give our 5.6 million app users greater control and visibility of their cashflow, including real-time insights into their spending behaviour to help them achieve their goals and improve their financial wellbeing,” according to Sullivan.

“This is our big shift from transactional banking, into a game-changer that other banks around the world, neobanks, fintechs are not looking at, and it’s the introduction of true, smarter banking,” Steel added.

“One of our philosophical beliefs is helping customers save, helping them learn how to save. So we’ve been working with Harvard University, on experiments, how to make it a really simple, inclusive experience, set goals, governed by experiences and engaging you on your spending to save for those goals,” he said.

On the security front, CBA has also made strides in boosting the app’s fraud detection capabilities, giving customers greater oversight over suspect transactions.

In a world-first, according to Steel, the fourth-gen app will send auto alerts to customers to warn of suspicious transactions – transactions deemed fraudulent will be automatically blocked by the bank; however, for transactions that cannot be verified with full certainty, the app will prompt customers to take action.

“For us, this is wonderful because it puts customers in control, helps them help us learn. And it’s almost like crowdsourcing some of the fraudulent merchants out there, so we can spot them quicker,” he said.

CBA also confirmed it has enabled a new opt-in location tracking feature within the app to help further safeguard users against fraud which – acknowledging the considerable privacy concerns around such a feature – Steel assured, strictly conforms to the bank’s privacy policies.

Earlier this month, CommBank’s third-generation app was rated the top mobile banking app in Australia by Forrester’s Banking Wave: Australian Mobile Apps, Q2 2019 industry survey – taking the top spot for the third consecutive year.