CBA, Westpac CIOs condemn bank reforms

 

No gains for consumers from common IT systems.

The Chief Information Officers of two of Australia's largest banks have scoffed at a Federal Government proposal for the nation's banks to build common platforms in an attempt to foster bank account portability.

Commonwealth Bank CIO Michael Harte [pictured] told iTnews that the plan would be technically wasteful and would not achieve the Federal Government's goal of empowering consumers with tools to change.

Technically, he said, "we would have to tear out the BSB and account name-based systems and move to something totally different."

Payment services such as BPAY would need to be re-architected, he said.

"We would have to re-code a lot of software."

Using common IT systems "wouldn't solve the [Government's] problem anyway," he said, arguing that the fact that banks were running different systems did not inhibit customer choice.

A better solution was to encourage banks to provide greater transparency around fees via enhanced online options, he said.

Banks were already investing in upgraded systems where changes to account settings are 'drag and drop' simple, he said. "But it would be extremely wasteful to insist upon all banks using that."

Both Harte and Westpac CIO Bob McKinnon said that banks already collaborated to facilitate customer demands for a more fluid online banking environment. They anticipated more collaboration on shared platforms in the future, without a Government mandate.

Harte said the CBA, for example, might white-label some ICT services developed in-house to other banks.

"There are areas of customer service and product where that could work, but increasingly that's about processes rather than technology," McKinnon added.

"There are more opportunities to work together on things like mortgage platforms. There is no customer service advantage in the platform itself."

Stay tuned for an exploration of McKinnon and Harte's views on cloud computing later today.

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