CBA's investment in digital soars

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CBA's investment in digital soars

IT expenses also increase.

CBA allocated 20 percent of its $1.8 billion total group investment spend last year to creating best-in-class digital experiences.

The bank said its investment spend in total grew from $1.43 billion in FY20 to $1.8 billion in FY21, a 26 percent rise.

"We've increased our investment spend this year by 26 percent, with digital now representing 20 percent of our total spend," CEO Matt Comyn told investors.

CBA’s FY21 results, released today, are dominated by the bank’s digital works as well as its “reimagining” of products and services.

The bank called out a wide spectrum of digital platforms and capabilities it has bought, invested in or brought online to date.

It also flagged some pending launches, including a Square-like tap-and-pay reader device and a direct-to-consumer “next generation home lending app”, both of which are due before the end of 2021.

Staff costs increased four percent in the year, in part “due to continued investment in digital capabilities, innovation and risk and compliance activities.”

"We are focused on continuing to make progress on our more ambitious strategy - building tomorrow’s bank today for our customers," Comyn said.

"We are reimagining banking through new products and partnerships that will support our customers and help build Australia’s future economy, while focusing on disciplined execution and investing in digital and technology capability."

IT, cloud costs

CBA said its IT expenses for the full year increased one percent, which it attributed to “higher IT infrastructure costs and cloud computing, as well as higher investment spend.”

The exact quantum of that increase is unclear. However, the bank’s slides also show a $62 million rise in operating expenses attributed to that is, in part, the result of “higher IT application and software licensing costs”.

CBA is on a long-term trajectory to push over 95 percent of its workloads into the public cloud.

It isn’t clear how far it has progressed with this effort.

But the bank did say that cloud accounts for “43 percent of total compute”, though that excludes capacity on midrange and mainframe infrastructure.

Comyn told analysts that the bank has "large programs of work underway to simplify and modernise our technology estate, including retiring old systems and re-hosting or modernising systems, which are end-of-life."

"We're seeing the benefits of some of these investments in terms of automation and turnaround times in both home lending and business banking," he said.

He reiterated the bank's intention to hire 600 engineers across a range of technology domains.

Comyn also said CBA had "opened an office in India, to increase our access to global best talent," though did not elaborate.

The bank reported a net profit after tax of $8.8 billion for FY21, a 19.7 percent year-on-year rise.

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