New app is major leap forward for ANZ customers

Following the release of their new app, Boris Plantier spoke with the Australian bank's Digital Portfolio Lead, Darren Baird, about how they sped up production, identify the right partner, and deliver for their customers in the digital space. 

New app is major leap forward for ANZ customers

Could you expand on the new agile methodologies that you used in order to develop this mobile banking app? What is the impact of your “New Ways of Working” program on the app delivery?

The introduction of ANZ’s New Ways of Working challenged the existing mindset toward the delivery of new features in the app. Agile methodologies saw our engineering squads become much more efficient as they enhanced collaboration with downstream systems and built powerful relationships.

Before New Ways of Working, the multiple layers of management made moving with speed more difficult, but the changes agile brought meant our teams were free to work faster and more collaboratively.

To give you an example, prior to our current app, ANZ made two releases per year. Over the last two years we have delivered monthly releases that incorporate valuable features that better meet our customers’ needs.

How do you collect and use customer needs and feedback before and during the creation of the app?

We initially harvested pre-existing data and research that was readily available at ANZ. This included data we had from customers writing to us asking for the app to include features they found useful in internet banking. However we had to re-think these features for the mobile app. We also observed customers’ behavior in other banking channels to find areas to focus our innovative efforts.

For example, the most frequent thing customers do is check their balance, so we have made this exceptionally easy by building our bank balance widget. This widget allows customers to view their balance on their smartphone home screen without having to log in to the app.

We undertake a rigorous testing process that includes prototyping, testing with real customers, acknowledging any unconscious bias staff and stakeholders may have, and then finally every feature is assessed for usability and accessibility.

Could you tell me how you select and work with third parties to create and enhance your app? Do you have an example of a successful partnership you would like to highlight that has brought new added value to your customers?

We scan the market looking for who is doing things better than us or others and focus on forming partnerships with those who can help with key customer pain points. For instance, in the past we had an issue where customers were struggling with our transaction details in the mobile app as they were really unhelpful. We partnered with Look Who’s Charging, a small start-up, who crowd sourced information about merchant transaction details and integrated it into our app and customers love it.

Equally as important as the customer satisfaction is that this partnership has empowered our customers to know where their money is being spent and if they have a concern over a transaction, they don’t need to call ANZ, they can tap the merchant in the app and call them directly, avoiding calls to our contact center.

The use of data and AI to offer a more personalized experience to customers is very important nowadays. How personalized is your app? And what is your vision for the future of mobile banking in terms of personalization? Is it the Holy Grail of banking?

The personalized features of our app focus on helping customers with their savings goals. It is early days with these features released only last week! We aim to learn more to make personalization more useful for customers.

Another very trendy concept is financial wellness. How does your app improve customer financial wellness?

Financial wellbeing is something I am personally very passionate about having worked in the group that formed ANZ’s financial wellbeing principles for our current and future customers.

Our app uses a spend tracker tool called ANZ Spendi to track our customers’ spending habits – both good and bad. This can help our customers to learn where they could make changes to meet their savings or budgeting goals.

It seems that the Covid-19 crisis generates mobile payments and mobile banking adoption. How does it impact ANZ customer behavior? Do you have some numbers you can share with me?

We have seen a shift in customer behavior in the short term and it’s probably not what you expect. Use of cash is down 40%, however over the past three months use of digital payments has dropped too. It is a small change but symbolic of how life has changed overnight. We’re starting to see increases in digital usage but these were already very high pre-Covid-19, with over 90% of our new customers being ’digital first’.

Finding the right compromise between customer experience and security is challenging. What solution do you offer for authentication? And what is your vision on the different technologies and solutions that pop up in the industry?

I have never accepted that experience and security had to be arch enemies. Having led design for innovation at ANZ a few years ago, I was exposed to ways we can make security and the feeling of security imbedded into our customers’ experience. For example, in order to make high-value payments secure in our mobile app, we chose to implement the use of voice biometrics so that the experience was a simple one, but the security measures were solid. We think the best security is silent but we also understand the need to design an experience that offers our customers assurance that their data and personal information is secure.

Another challenge in mobile banking is this human-touch that is missing. How do you meet this challenge? Do your customers have the possibility to get in touch with a contact center or an advisor?

We agree, the human touch can never be replaced. There will always be a place for our contact centers and the brick and mortar of face-to-face banking, this will just look different from the way it has in the past. We are the first to admit we have a bit of work to do in terms of incorporating the human-touch element into our app experience – for instance we don’t yet have live video chat.

However, we have introduced Talk2Us technology that means customers in the app can tap a button that says, “Report Fraud”, and their smartphone will call our contact centre, bypasses all the menus and gets the customer to the right person to solve the problem as quickly as possible. We call this a pre-authenticated call and it saves the customer and our contact centre staff time and most importantly, gives our customers’ confidence at a time when they may be feeling distressed.

In Europe and in Asia, we are witnessing the emergence of super apps that go beyond banking and look more and more like what we call invisible banking. What is your vision on these apps? Is it the future of mobile banking or is it a dangerous gamble?

I think the super app concept is yet to prove itself outside of Asia as other markets are very different. I have no doubt that some aspects of banking will become invisible, like payments. Payments, I expect, will be supported through many apps and the market is very crowded. At the end of the day the battle is to own the customer and their data, however I think the biggest winners will be the players who solve real human problems in ways that provide the highest level of convenience for the customer. To date those who have done that the most convincingly have been Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, and they all have walled gardens. We’ll be watching with interest.


Bank Products & Services Digital/Mobile channels Customer experience