CommBank to launch new machine learning-backed banking app

Backed by 'world-leading' machine learning, data analytics, and behavioural science.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has announced a trial of a redesigned banking app that it says has been backed by "world-leading" machine learning, data analytics, and behavioural science.

The bank said its app boasts 5.3 million unique users and more than 6.5 million log-ons per day. It expects the redesign will provide the "first completely personalised and smart digital banking experience in Australia, backed by world-leading application of machine learning technology".

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According to chief digital officer Pete Steel, CBA has a "unique ability to use technology and innovation capabilities to support good financial habits".

"We're using a combination of cutting edge machine learning technology, data analytics, and behavioural science to develop smart banking features to create a highly personalised digital banking experience," he said.

Steel expects the CommBank app to send over 3 billion personalised messages to customers by using 157 billion data points and 200 advanced machine learning models.

Currently in trial and to be launched to all app users over the coming months, the new app will include "smart alerts" that lets customers know when their credit card payments are due, when they've overdrawn their account, or completed a high-cost credit card transaction such as an ATM cash advance. 

The "goal tracker", CBA said, will encourage bankers to save; the app will also give customers a list of all the regular payments coming out of their accounts each month; "cash flow view" will provide a snapshot of a customer's total monthly income, spending, and savings across transaction, deposit, and credit card accounts; and the spend tracker will categorise every transaction.

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In the wake of the Banking Royal Commission, CEO Matt Comyn hopes the new app will make customers happy.

"It will be an app that is for every one of our customers. We want it to really to feel like it's your app," said. "When you log into the app it will be personalised… and it will show on the home screen the most relevant thing for you."

For the first half of the year, CBA reported AU$4.6 billion in statutory net profit after tax, down AU$300 million from the bank's H1 2018 AU$4.9 billion profit. The bank reported AU$12.4 billion in operating income.

IT services expenses during the six month period increased by AU$89 million to AU$904 million year on year. This was primarily due to a AU$50 million increase in amortisation of software assets, increased spend on resiliency projects, and lower vendor rebates received, the bank told shareholders on Wednesday.


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