CBA's technology investments streamlined COVID-19 support for customers

The bank also announced the sale of Colonial First State.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
Image: Asha Barbaschow/ZDNet

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has revealed during its March quarter update that its investment in digital banking and technology underpinned the bank's ability to quickly streamline processes to support customers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

For the three months 31 March 2020, CBA reported net profit after tax (NPAT) of approximately AU$1.3 billion for the third quarter, compared to the 1H20 NPAT quarter average of AU$2.2 billion, noting it was impacted by COVID-19 and customer remediation.

During the period, the bank saw the CommBank app and NetBank daily logins peak at 10.2 million, while there were 250 million personalised in-app messages delivered regarding COVID-19 support.

The bank also saw 4 million visits to its new online COVID-19 support page at 17 April 2020, as well as more than a million calls and online requests for help during the quarter.

Meanwhile, digital wallet transactions in March were up 17% when compared to February, reaching a record AU$1 billion.

"Since the start of the pandemic, we have provided support to approximately 100,000 businesses and one million personal customers. This includes the deferral of repayments on approximately 240,000 home, business and consumer loans, lower interest rates for borrowers, increased interest rates for depositors, and waived fees and charges," CEO Matt Comyn said.

"We've been able to do this quickly, thanks to our investments in digital banking and technology, and the support of tens of thousands of people in our branches and Australia-based contact centres."

In addition to customer support, the bank provided capabilities to enable 30,000 staff to work remotely and meet social distancing guidelines in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Wednesday, CBA also announced the sale of its 55% interest in Colonial First State (CFS) to KKR for AU$1.7 billion.

The yellow bank said the transaction is "consistent with CBA's strategy to focus on its core banking businesses and to create a simpler and better bank, while allowing CFS to become a more focussed standalone business and deliver a wide range of benefits for members".

Earlier this year, a class action against CFS was filed by Shine Lawyers, claiming hundreds and thousands of its members had seen their superannuation depleted by excessive insurance premiums.

The sale price of CFS is estimated to result in a post-tax gain of approximately AU$1.5 billion, which includes estimated post-tax separation and transaction costs for CBA of approximately AU$180 million.

Due to be completed during the first half of the 2021 calendar year, the transaction represents the final stage of CBA's previously announced planned exits from various wealth management activities over recent years.

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