The Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation (ANZ) has announced its financial results for the first half of the 2018 financial year, reporting AU$3.49 billion in after-tax profit, up 4 percent year over year.
Revenue from the bank's Australian operations totalled AU$4.8 billion for the six months to March 31, 2018, while operating expenses was reported as AU$1.8 billion.
Revenue booked in New Zealand was AU$1.7 billion, and operating expenses for the period was AU$642 million.
During the half, ANZ lost 3,333 staff members across its entire operation, with the majority disappearing along with its Wealth business. The bank boasted a total of 50,152 staff members in September 2015, and as of March 2018, it had 39,540 staff members on its books.
Branches reduced to 658 during the half, after reaching a peak of 751 in FY15; while digital branches climbed to 99 during the half, up from the five ANZ boasted at the end of the 2015 financial year.
ANZ reported 3.4 million active digital customers at the end of the quarter; claimed 24 percent of Australian retail sales were made digitally; and clocked 19.2 million digital logons weekly during the period.
After going live with a new banking app in February, ANZ reported 937,000 active users since launch.
More than 18.5 million mobile payment transactions were completed during the six-month period, totalling AU$594 million.
Touching on the Banking Royal Commission, ANZ said it expects legal fees of AU$50 million to hit its 2018 full-year results.
The bank touted four priorities for the half: Creating a simpler, better balanced bank; focusing on areas where it can win; building a superior everyday experience to compete in the digital age; and driving a purpose and values-led transformation.
ANZ is just over halfway through its transformation project, kicked off in response to a changing digital landscape.
"Two years ago, it was clear we needed to reshape ANZ's future. Although we had a strong business, the external environment was changing faster than we were, and our customers, the community, and our shareholders expected much more from us," CEO Shayne Elliott explained previously.
"We have made some difficult calls in that time, and the new shape of ANZ is now emerging."
ANZ, in partnership with speech software firm Nuance, rolled out voice identification technology on its Grow by ANZ banking app in September, allowing customers to make "Pay Anyone" payments of more than AU$1,000 automatically, bypassing usual security measures such as visiting a branch in person. Voice ID can also be used to make BPAY payments of over AU$10,000.
Addressing the FIDO Alliance Seminar in Sydney shortly after, ANZ general manager of Wholesale Digital Nigel Dobson said the bank was looking to implement voice biometrics as the method of authentication in its call centres across all of its front doors.
"The launch of our unique voice biometrics capability has contributed to five-fold growth in the value of payments using mobile devices from November 2017 to March 2018," Elliott told shareholders on Tuesday.
ANZ in February announced investing in big data firm Data Republic, hoping to speed up innovation through a secure data-sharing platform provided by the Sydney-based startup.
It is expected that ANZ will use the platform to share data with third parties through the cloud, laying the foundations for the looming Open Banking reforms.
"Using data analytics and insights to deliver better customer outcomes more often is an essential part of how we need to operate in the digital economy," ANZ chief data officer Emma Gray said at the time.
For the 2016-17 financial year, ANZ reported statutory profit of AU$6.41 billion, up 12 percent year on year. Yearly revenue from the bank's Australian business came in at AU$9.6 billion.
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