The National Australia Bank (NAB) has revealed that it is currently building apps specifically for Research In Motion (RIM)'s new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, while voicing ongoing concerns over the security of Android-based banking.
Speaking to ZDNet Australia at CeBIT 2011 yesterday, Chris Smith, general manager of online services for NAB, said that the launch of the PlayBook had driven the bank to develop new apps.
"We watch the [operating system] space to see what consumers are using and what platform they want to adopt. For us, we started with Apple and moved to Droid with Google, and we are looking at BlackBerry, and the new tablet that they have, and also Windows [Phone] 7," Smith said.
He admitted that there were some challenges developing for the QNX-based Blackberry PlayBook, however.
"The BlackBerry is targeted to the corporate sector, and they're often locked down so you can't download apps. If we build an app, we want that to increase our reach and usage, but sometimes corporate policy doesn't allow that to happen.
"The challenge ... is not so much the [BlackBerry] brand or the usage, it's just allowing and making sure the customers can download the app and get it to their BlackBerry," he said.
Smith told ZDNet Australia that, because of the stringent security requirements around the platform, NAB is currently exploring the idea of bundling its BlackBerry banking apps out of the box, along with telco-specific software.
"That's one of the ideas we're looking at and exploring, yeah. To get into the actual build and to have the app come out as part of the build for a particular corporate or telco, that's something we might look at."
NAB currently supports native mobile banking applications on the iOS and Android platforms. Smith said that iOS is a good platform to develop for in terms of security, adding that he has some concerns around Android.
"iOS and the Apple platform is unique in the fact that it's quite closed and it's a lot harder to get fraud and man-in-the-middle scams happening. But because Google and Droid is more open, there's a greater propensity for fraud to happen there, so we are looking at anti-fraud opportunities for that platform.
"Right now, we're talking to a number of antivirus ... [and] security companies to help protect security on the phone."
Despite various security concerns, Smith said that the launch of mobile apps across the two platforms has so far seen one million new customers take up online banking.
The BlackBerry Playbook has already been released in the US, and is expected to launch in Australia this month.