CBA records 26% uplift in half-year statutory profit as it continues to spend big on IT

Tech initiatives continued to make up a large portion of where CBA was spending its dollars during six months.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor on

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has reported its financial results for the 2022 half year, recording statutory after-tax profit of AU$4.74 billion, a 26% year-on-year uplift.

For the period ending 31 December 2021, operating expenses were flat at AU$5.6 billion. Making up the largest portion were staff-related expenses, which grew by 13% from AU$2.96 million to AU$3.36 million.

The bank attributed the rise in staff costs to higher staff numbers to support the delivery of the bank's strategic priorities, such as an increase in technology resources to help customers and support the uplift in the bank's cybersecurity and data capabilities. 

The rise in staff costs were offset by a 5% drop in IT expenses, however, which came in at AU$960 million for the half year, due to lower amortisation and businesses simplification initiatives. 

The reduction in IT expenses was counterbalanced by the bank's spend on IT infrastructure and maintenance costs, including higher cloud computing and storage volumes, and higher software licence costs, which totalled AU$945 million, 10% more than the AU$856 million reported in the same corresponding period last financial year.

The increased spend in IT infrastructure reflects CBA working towards its goal of migrating two-thirds of compute into the public cloud by the end of the 2022 financial year. For the half year, the bank noted it has hit the 48% mark and deployed more than 2,000 cloud-based business applications.

"The bank has delivered a strong financial result in a low-rate environment. This has been achieved through continued customer focus and disciplined operational execution," CBA chief Matt Comyn said.

"We have continued to invest in operational execution and the ongoing strengthening of our business, consistent with our strategic priorities," Comyn added.

During the six months, CBA also recorded a 10% bump in total investment spend to AU$945 million. This comprised AU$392 million in risk and compliance projects, including upgrading the bank's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing compliance technology and improving training for staff.

Another AU$366 million was invested into productivity and growth initiatives, which accounted for 39% of total investment spend.  

"The bank has increased focus on strengthening capabilities and extending our leadership in digital, technology, and customer-centric product offerings through the ongoing modernisation of our platforms to provide integrated and personalised experiences for our customers," the bank detailed.

"The bank is also innovating for the future through initiatives such as the simplification of our technology platforms, uplifting our payments capabilities, including our new smart Eftpos terminal and the New Payments Platform, and ongoing advancement of the digital interface for our home loan and everyday banking customers."

Infrastructure and branch refurbishment initiatives, including simplifying the bank's IT infrastructure and data centres, meanwhile made up the remainder of the total investment spend.

Due to such investments, CBA said 90% of documents are now executed digitally, with the bank seeing a 33% reduction in annual review times due to simplified processes.

Over the last two years since December 2019, a further 700,000 have signed up for Commbank, taking the total to 6.6 million users, the bank said, resulting in the number of average daily customer logins reaching nine million, as of December 2021.

Earlier this week, the yellow bank announced it acquired a 20% stake in Brisbane-based fintech Paypa Plane.

The bank said as part of its investment, the pair will enter into a partnership to create a "superior payments experience" for Australian businesses and help them transition to PayTo, a New Payments Platform-based product to allow businesses to make real-time direct debit payments to customers.  


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