CBA more than doubles annual system changes

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CBA more than doubles annual system changes

Credits core banking overhaul with newfound agility.

Commonwealth Bank is now completing 3900 changes to its systems every year, an agility dividend of its billion-dollar investment in core banking infrastructure.

With the bank boasting a record $9.4 billion profit in the 2016 financial year, CEO Ian Narev said the core banking overhaul - completed in late 2012 - brought new flexibility to the bank’s operations and helped drive down the cost of doing business.

“We started with the infrastructure, completed that aspect of the infrastructure and you can see we are now in the process of continuous innovation on the infrastructure,” he said during this morning’s results briefing.

“In this competitive environment with a focus on technology we are now doing 3900 system changes a month compared to about 1500 that we were doing in 2009.”

But the banking boss said he still isn’t satisfied with where CBA has gotten in terms of back-office cost reduction, despite a drop of 40 basis points in its cost-to-income ratio to 42.4 percent.

He told analysts he still wants to drive down the cost of change if Commonwealth Bank is going to fend off newer and nimbler entrants to the market.

“We are far from where we are going to get to and where we need to get to on the cost of change. There is still work to do there,” he said.

On the the customer end, the bank talked up its new tech offerings such as a straight through “instant banking” feature allowing users of its app to open a transaction account in under five minutes, the ability to automatically populate BPAY payment details by photographing a paper bill on an smartphone, and customisable deposit alerts.

Narev said CBA’s once troubled Albert Android-based point of sale device is also starting to deliver a return on investment, after an extended, three-year gestation.

Roughly 18 months on, there are now 40,000 Albert devices in the hands of Australian business and “critically” 60 percent of these users were not CBA business banking customers before they adopted the POS system.

Furthermore, Narev said, Albert users’ on average deposit more than other business banking clients.

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