Commbank's NetBank launched ... finally

After experiencing glitches and delays, the new version of Commonwealth Bank's online banking service NetBank will finally be launched this weekend.Aimed at increasing security and expanding the Web site's overall functionality, the AU$100 million upgrade -- which has been developed by a team of 250 staff over the past two years -- will update statements in real time, allow customers to pay multiple bills at one go and transfer money to international bank accounts.

After experiencing glitches and delays, the new version of Commonwealth Bank's online banking service NetBank will finally be launched this weekend.

Aimed at increasing security and expanding the Web site's overall functionality, the AU$100 million upgrade -- which has been developed by a team of 250 staff over the past two years -- will update statements in real time, allow customers to pay multiple bills at one go and transfer money to international bank accounts.

Hugh Harley, group executive of retail banking services at Commonwealth Bank, said one of the major changes is in the speed at which transactions will be recorded on a customer's online statement.

"Our batch processing system meant that when you made a transaction you could see how the balance of your account changed but you couldn't see the actual transaction record. Now the transaction is there and live on the system at that very second," said Harley.

Harley added that the bank was improving its security in a number of ways.

Firstly, customers can sign up for an additional username and password that is specifically for use when accessing the NetBank service from an insecure location, such as an Internet cafe or a shared computer. A secondary login can be configured to only allow access to specific services -- reducing the risk of giving an attacker full control of the bank account.

Harley said customers will be able to modify or customise their version of NetBank. "We advice our customers to be careful when travelling and using computers they are not familiar with. A modified version will be able to -- for instance -- allow users to only pay certain bills," he added.

Additional security improvements include a welcome message upon login that informs the customer the last time the service was accessed. It also allows the user to request their password to be reset online, something that previously required calling the bank's call centre.

The bank is also investigating a two-factor authentication system but have yet to test any solutions. "We are absolutely looking at two-factor authentication but we have not included it in this release," said Harley.

Another new facility provided by NetBank gives businesses the ability to upload their payroll files to help with salary distribution -- however, the service will come as an optional extra.

"File import is typically used by businesses for payroll -- we do have quite a lot of small business customers. They haven't had the ability to import their files into NetBank in the past we have now enabled that at AU$2.50 per import," said Harley.

Harley said the NetBank system has been tested with a combination of browsers and operating systems to ensure customers are not restricted in their choice of platforms.

"We have tested NetBank on 40 combinations of operating systems and browsers. There are some that do not work well with Internet banking systems -- not just with NetBank -- such as old versions of Apple's Safari browser. But the latest version of Safari does work and the Mozilla and Netscape browsers also work," said Harley.

Harley said the migration of its 1.9 million NetBank customers should be completed by the end of June, starting with 50,000 this weekend.

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