Westpac New Zealand to test Google Glass and Apple's iBeacon

Westpac NZ is leading the way in digital banking innovation by trialling its Cash Tank app on Google Glass and introducing Apple's iBeacon technology in its branches.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Westpac New Zealand is adding another dimension to customer service by trialling its Cash Tank app on Google Glass over the next month and introducing Apple's iBeacon technology in its branches, a first for any New Zealand bank.

The bank believes 2014 is the year of wearable technology, and intends to make those services available to its customers on all new technology platforms.

"Digital innovation is unfolding around the world at an incredible pace, and we're focused on making it available to our customers to make things easier and faster for them," said Simon Pomeroy, Westpac NZ head of digital.

Trialling Cash Tank on Google Glass, a mini smartphone-like hands-free display screen attached to a metal frame, is under way so that the app will be ready to go when Glass is expected to be available to New Zealanders later this year. Users will wear the device over the right eye and through Cash Tank — which is already available on Sony's SmartWatch — will be able to see their account balance without the need to log in.

"By the end of this year, our customers will be able to walk into a shop wearing their Google Glass, see something they like, and instantly check their bank balance, which will be displayed in their peripheral vision — that's pretty cool," said Pomeroy.

Pomeroy also said that Westpac plans to eventually extend its Cash Tank app functionality to allow customers to make balance transfers between their bank accounts, receive account alerts, and also find the nearest ATM or Westpac branch.

The bank will make use of Apple's iBeacon technology, which will allow customers to receive special offers and other incentives on their device when they are in or walking past a shop that uses the technology. It can also alert staff that a customer has arrived for a pre-ordered item, and can remind the customer that they are in a place that has an item on their digital shopping list.

iBeacon, which is already being used in theme parks and by restaurants and car companies, is planned for trial in select Westpac branches by the end of February.

This news follows the bank's release of the first stage of its new online banking system yesterday, which will be progressively unveiled over the next month, with full completion scheduled for early 2014.

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