The National Australia Bank (NAB) will be launching a Microsoft Windows Phone application, which it hopes will aid its transition to the imminent Windows 8 platform.
NAB app ATM finder using Bing Maps
Microsoft will be releasing its Windows 8 OS later in the year, which is geared towards touchscreen devices, such as tablets. A mobile version of the OS is set to follow, but will not be supported by any phones that are currently on the market.
According to NAB, customer demand for Windows Phone 7 platform banking app has increased significantly, which led to the development of the new app.
The app is currently in private beta and is set to launch next week. It features an ATM locator, which uses Microsoft's Bing Maps, a live Twitterfeed for NAB tweets and standard payment transaction capabilities.
NAB already has dedicated apps for iOS and Android devices.
Windows Phone 7 was released in early 2010, but has failed to gain significant market share. However, NAB still found the platform very exciting, particularly the Live Tile feature, which allows users to pin certain applications, functions and websites onto their home screen.
The bank took advantage of this feature by allowing the currency conversion part of the new app to be turned into a Live Tile.
But ultimately, the app is a way for NAB to acclimatise itself to the Windows Phone OS family.
"The way of looking at this is [as] a stepping stone into the future," said NAB head of mobile and emerging technologies Ben Forsyth. "The Windows 8 platform is imminent both on a desktop and tablet ... but phone will follow very shortly after.
"There is an opportunity for us to learn about that platform and to understand what those opportunities might be."
Some Windows Phone 7 handsets have near-field communication (NFC) capabilities, but NAB has no immediate plans to add a contactless payment method for the phones.
The bank had teamed up with Visa and Telstra to trial NFC payments in 2007, but after four years, that partnership has yet to bear fruit.
"We have a dedicated team working on those solutions — so just watch this space," Forsyth said.
BlackBerry ignored, again
With RIM currently in dire straits, NAB has no immediate plans to develop a mobile app for BlackBerry devices.
This was also the case for the Commonwealth Bank.
"We will continue to watch [RIM] and see what it manages to do with the BlackBerry 10 platform," Forsyth said. "It's fair to say its decline in the Australian market doesn't make it a particularly appealing target at the moment.
"But I hold great hopes they can actually execute some kind of resurgence."