ANZ has kicked off a $1.5 billion transformation program that will see the bank roll out intelligent ATM machines, video conferencing to regional branches and run another trial of contactless mobile payments.
The technology-heavy "Banking on Australia" program was unveiled this week by Australian chief executive officer Philip Chronican.
ANZ planned to refurbish its branches over the next five years to move basic teller tasks to the new ATM machines while improving access to metropolitan specialists from regional and remote locations.
The bank has also beefed up its application development process, unveiling variations of its goMoney iOS app with a specific focus on small and medium businesses as well as enterprises.
ANZ planned to deploy 800 new, "intelligent" ATMs in branches from June next year, after a trial commencing next April.
The bank ultimately hoped to replace all 2800 machines it owned and operated across Australia.
The new ATMs were designed to replace face-to-face interaction for basic teller functions, including cash and cheque deposits, with digital imaging technology used to determine note type and quantity.
They were also capable of using biometric and near-field communications technology, although the 800 initial machines would require add-ons to make the functionality available.
Chronican said the bank was still determining when or what type of biometrics to introduce.
"We want to see what our customers' response to which form of biometric they're most comfortable with is, but we do think that biometrics will be very important going forward," he said.
"It's probably two to three years before we get commercialisation of biometrics in banking but obviously it does overcome the issues we have with security in banking at the moment where PINs and cards are so easily discerned."
ANZ has rolled out Cisco video conferencing units to 43 regional branches in a bid to replace roaming financial specialists with a 'hub-and-spoke' approach.
The technology is an extension of ANZ's existing Cisco telepresence networks in major city headquarters and provides on-demand access to ANZ's Melbourne specialists from other branches nationwide.
ANZ began trialling the regional network in April this year. The system has since been used 150 times by remote staff, including those in the bank's Alice Springs branch, which does not usually have such access.
The smaller units, which also provide access to desktop sharing for presentations and application access, are capable of high definition conferencing but will largely function in standard definition with encryption for an average bandwidth requirement of 384 kilobits per second.
ANZ also unveiled a new, limited test of near-field communications (NFC) technology using Samsung Galaxy S III smartphones with 25 ANZ staff, including Chronican.
The smartphones will rely on the secure elements embedded in Optus SIM cards to provide easy access to individual payments of $100, or more expensive payments with PIN code authorisation.
"We've got to start small and work our way through," Chronican said, dismissing the notion that the sample size was too small.
"We're starting with 25 but we'll rapidly expand that out as it goes. It's both a function of getting users more accustomed to it, also getting merchants who will use.
"By doing it on a contained cycle we can obviously deal directly with merchants in the neighbourhood."
Last year, ANZ launched a similar contactless payments trial using iPhones — which do not have native NFC capabilties — with a third-party case and micro SD cards for secure elements.
Sam Qubrosi, ANZ’s head of product management and unsecured lending, told iTnews last May that participants had responded positively to the four-week trial.
But ANZ head of payments John Collins told iTnews today that the trial had failed based on customers' aversion to add-on devices.
"Now that iPhone 5 has been announced and it doesn't have native NFC, we will revisit that research and ask customers whether that view has changed," he said.
He said initial use of NFC technology would still require agreements with telcos, due to an inability to access the secure elements embedded in the NFC chip on Android handsets themselves.
"The analogy that we're using is that in the same the banking community went from pinstripe to contact EMV cards to contactless EMV cards, the telco needs to upgrade their SIM from contact to contactless SIM cards," he said.
"The long-run solution needs to be telco-agnostic. Ultimately, in the same way you do today, you don't go and buy a bunch of different wallets and say 'I can only use this wallet in this shop'."
The mobile wallet appeared to be separate from ANZ's growing portfolio of apps, which was expanded this week to include FastPay for small businesses, and Transactive Mobile for enterprises.
Like the consumer-focused goMoney, the new applications allow businesses to accept and clear payments. ANZ said goMoney had 700,000 users and was responsible for five million transactions every month.
The business applications also offered same-day settlement and clearing. Spokespeople for the bank have yet to confirm if any significant back-end upgrades were required.
Chief information officer Ann Weatherstone has previously pointed to technology projects being based on an "architected approach" rather than a total core banking replacement, as has been rolled out at rival banks Commonwealth and NAB.
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