Suncorp commits to another half-year of technology investments

It comes as the group achieves AU$642 million in net profit after tax for 1H20 to 31 December 2019.

Suncorp has announced that during the latter half of the 2020 financial year it would continue to leverage its investment in digital and data to improve the group's operations and enhance the customer experience.

The group highlighted how it would use artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to try to improve its "competitive advantage and drive improvement in the core business".

It said the group would also continue to invest in digital self-service capabilities to increase efficiency, scalability, and speed for customers, such as by using its existing Suncorp app to create a dedicated insurance app on the same platform, commencing with AAMI in the second half of 2020.

"This platform for insurance brands will allow new mobile app features to be deployed in minimal effort and cost, driving strong digital engagement with brand alignment customers, and increasing digital users across group," the company said.

The announcement comes at the same time as the group releasing its half-year results, where it achieved net profit after tax (NPAT) of AU$642 million to 31 December 2019. This is up nearly 157% from the same period last fiscal year where it recorded AU$250 million.

Its New Zealand business on the other hand, experienced a 10% drop in profit after tax, coming in at NZ$108 million.

Operating expenses for its banking and wealth business increased by 5.9% to AU$361 million, which Suncorp said was due to higher regulatory compliance costs and technology spend.

It also reported that during the period, digital sales for Insurance Australia and AAMI home insurance went up 13% and 33%, respectively.

The number of digital users, which included those that logged into Suncorp for digital banking, mobile banking app, insurance policy self-service, and mobile applications, increased when compared to the same period last financial year from 3.03 million to 3.61 million users.

Suncorp attributed the increase to key initiatives that were rolled out during the first-half year. These included enhancing the self-service functionality to reduce calls to the call centre, improving AI-based claims assessment and fraud monitoring, and delivering the ability to pre-populate customer data for digital purchases and a simpler quote process.

"In digital, the story is a positive one. Over the past six months our digital assets have helped drive a transformation in our liability funding mix and this has flowed through to margin. A digital-first mindset is now well entrenched in the day-to-day operations of the bank," group CEO Steven Johnston said.

Suncorp added that with open banking due to come into effect on 1 July 2020, the company has also focused on progressively enhancing its identity management capabilities through development of new APIs to improve capability, security, and customer authentication.

"Our regulatory program of work is extensive, and while the pace of implementation is somewhat dependant on regulators or the passage of new or amended legislation, we are pushing ahead with change where it makes sense," Johnston said.

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