St. George Bank CIO Dhiren Kulkarni wants to see the bank’s 7000 staff out in the field demonstrating the ease with which customers can use its mobile systems.
The question is, what device should staff use to demo the systems? Will it be a device they own, or one provisioned by the bank? And as a CIO, do you limit the choice of devices and provide support, or let the market decide?
Kulkarni’s team has developed a long list of innovations on mobile devices. Money Meter, a widget that displays account balances directly on the smartphone's home screen without requiring the customer to log-in, is among the bank's most recent.
Another allows customers to apply – and gain approval – for a personal loan or credit card from their smartphone within just 60 seconds.
To demonstrate these features to customers, St. George rolled out a new program called ‘Digital Ambassador’ under which 30 'power user' field staff were provisioned with an Apple iPhone 5 and Apple iPad 4.
Kulkarni sees this program as a test-bed for a wider roll-out of devices to St George staff.
“It’s strange that sometimes customers know more about mobile and online banking than our staff do,” Kulkarni said. “Ideally, almost every St. George staff should have a device. Our staff need to be educated and be proud of what our services are.”
The bank is unlikely, however, to provision a mobile device for all 7000 staff, and Kulkarni is hesitant to commit the entire fleet to one manufacturer. St. George’s various online/app properties work across multiple platforms, and new and updated devices and platforms are rolling out every few months.
Instead, the bank is “working through figuring out the best way for staff to buy a smart device," the CIO said.
Kulkarni is mulling a range of options that includes (but is not limited to) offering staff zero percent interest loans on their purchase of a new device, combined with negotiating discounts for bulk staff purchases of devices from the manufacturer.
Apple will likely not be the default device choice, despite the use of Cupertino's products in the bank’s Ambassador program.
The 60-second personal loan, for example, is available on St. George’s mobile site – but was developed as a feature of the bank’s Android App first. It will be rolled out on iOS at a later date.
“There has been a much bigger focus on Android in last six months as more customers take up the platform," said Travis Tyler, head of eChannels for St. George.
Tyler noted that while the majority of iPhone customers connecting to St. George services were on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S rather than the iPhone 5, there was a greater share of Android customers using Samsung’s Galaxy III than the prior model.
“That would suggest both growth of Android and some level of saturation for Apple,” he said. “Our Android customers have been very vocal in telling us – why are we always second? We’re trying to remediate that.”
The bank has chosen “not to pursue” any further Blackberry apps – the last launched in 2011 – but Tyler said “ if our customers are there, we’ll be there.”