Commonwealth Bank wants to take banking back to the 1970s

Using technology, the banking heavyweight wants to get to know its customers better by restoring the relationship people had with banks over 40 years ago.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is taking a different approach to its digital transformation, hoping to recreate the sentiment around banking that was present in the 1970s.

According to Andrew McMullan, head of Customer Decisioning at CBA, building better relationships with customers should sit alongside the deployment of technology initiatives.

"It's one of my phrases that confuses people, but the thing we want to do is recreate that relationship that the customer had with the bank or the banking manager back in the 1970s," McMullan told the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo on the Gold Coast on Tuesday.

"We want to be able to recreate those relationships, and at CBA with over 1,000 branches and nearly 10 million customers, how can you possibly do that unless you use technology and use it in the right way to genuinely help your customers, build relationships, get to know them."

The challenge for CBA is making that possible through the multiple channels it now finds itself playing in, as not all of its customers visit branches.

One such area, and a technology that was in its infancy in the 70s, is automated teller machines.

CBA will soon be rolling out a new update to its ATM fleet powered by the decisioning engine that currently looks across many other customer relationships and channels

"Our ATM fleet has been updated to have touch screens and other elements that allow us to take more feedback; previously we just pushed campaigns out," added Alex Burton, head of Data and Decisioning Strategy of Retail Bank CBA.

"With the new fleet going out we can actually get real feedback, so it can actually ask questions and you can connect it with a different experience, like you might be using an ATM next to a branch and we could look to see if there was an appointment available in the branch and connect those two things together.

"That connected experience is the sorts of things we can do with the ATMs."

CBA's ATMs have been in the spotlight of late, following the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) alleging CBA has been involved in "serious and systemic non-compliance" with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.

Austrac detailed 53,700 breaches of the Act, which included failing to hand 53,506 threshold transaction reports (TTRs) for cash transactions over AU$10,000 to Austrac through intelligent deposit machines (IDMs) for almost three years between November 2012 and September 2015.

CBA discovered a coding error in its smart ATMs back in August 2015 that resulted in the suspicious transactions being let through.

For the 2017 financial year, CBA reported record after-tax profit of AU$9.88 billion on revenue of AU$44 billion. Operating expenses increased to AU$11 billion, with AU$1.9 billion spent on information technology services, which was 31 percent more than in FY16.

Disclosure: Asha McLean travelled to Gartner Symposium/ITxpo as a guest of Gartner.

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