​CommBank partners with Barclays for mobile payments, fintech innovation

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Barclays have announced a partnership that allows cross-app payments and also gives CBA space at Barclays' fintech innovation lab in London.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has partnered with Barclays in the United Kingdom, connecting with each other's apps to allow mobile payments between Australia and the UK.

Common to both organisations is Michael Harte, who left his role as CBA Group Executive Enterprise Services and CIO in 2014 to take up the role of chief operations and technology officer at Barclays in London.

During his CBA tenure, Harte was responsible for innovations including the introduction of the bank's real-time settlement and banking, mobile banking app Kaching, and its point-of-sale platform Pi .

CBA called the new announcement with the British bank an "innovative link-up" of its own CommBank app and Barclay's Pingit app, which currently has more than 3 million registered users.

"We are delighted to offer customers a simple and secure mobile-to-mobile international payment option through our partnership," Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, CBA's group executive for Institutional Banking and Markets, said. "This demonstrates the power of two influential global organisations collaborating to deliver world-firsts in financial services innovation."

According to CBA, the PingIt/CommBank app solution acknowledges the importance of technology at the heart of global retail banking and is expected to be available to retail customers in the last quarter of 2016.

CBA has also opened the doors to an innovation lab in London, joining Barclays' own Rise innovation hub, which has focused on fintech since 2014.

The Australian bank said that it decided to launch a lab in London in recognition of the city's world status as the premier centre for financial technology innovation, with the lab expected to grant CBA access to the latest in fintech thinking.

"We are committed to be at the forefront of innovation for the benefit of our customers, and we want to access the best ideas wherever in the world they may originate," Rosmarin said.

"London, and the UK as a whole, has a reputation for nurturing global fintech innovation and we are excited about opening our innovation lab here and look forward to many partnerships and collaborations with this vibrant fintech community."

The Rise innovation hub is also home to the Barclays Accelerator program. CBA said its London innovation team is already there working with blockchain startup Everledger on the "next wave" of banking innovations.

CBA's innovation lab network now spans Sydney, Hong Kong, and London.

For the 2016 financial year, CBA reported statutory net profit after tax of AU$9.2 billion, up 3 percent year on year; operating income increased 5 percent to AU$24.6 billion; and revenue from ordinary activities came in at AU$44.4 billion, down 2 percent from the previous corresponding period.

"We have pursued a simple, consistent strategy for over a decade now. Continued execution of that strategy, focused on customer satisfaction, innovation, and strength, has again driven solid operating performance and balance sheet growth for the group," chief executive Ian Narev said at the time.

Total IT expenses came in at AU$1.5 billion for the full year. Specifically, software amortisation increased by 23 percent to AU$379 million, while application maintenance cost went up 19 percent to AU$511 million. The largest IT expense for the full year was the desktop line item that increased by 30 percent year on year to AU$143 million.

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