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CBA trialling video conferencing in regional Australia

CBA trialling video conferencing in regional Australia

CIO, Michael Harte, said the trials aimed to alleviate the inconvenience of distance between customers and bank staff

The Commonwealth Bank has commenced ‘in-branch’ trials of video conferencing in for customers in regional Australia.

Addressing attendees of the Australian Internet Industry Association Banking and Business briefing, Commonwealth Bank CIO, Michael Harte, said videoconferencing was part of the bank’s strategy to invest real-time availability to meet the changing needs and demands of the consumer.

““I don’t see why you can’t have a ‘FaceTime’ conversation with your bank manager; why wouldn’t you do that if it’s convenient for both, because it’s going to cut down a lot of the expense and it’s going to cut down inconvenience as well,” Harte said.

“We’re doing videoconferencing in rural areas so we’re allowing the phones and devices to be distributed through our rural banking base because they’re the most remote and they find it of highest convenience,” he said.

“They’ve got very specific financial needs so they have to have that intimacy, get specialist advice and have packages tailored specifically for their income and those trials are going really well.

“No matter what question you have or what service you require, you should only be click away from getting that personal, professional interaction that closes immediately the problem or solution you have.”

A spokesperson for the bank could not comment on the specific locations the trials are being conducted or the duration of the trials.

“These trials are ‘in-branch’, so within our local rural branches designed to help deliver even better convenience and support to our customers at their local branches,” the spokesperson told Computerworld Australia

According to Harte, new will potentially be superseded in the future as banking functions are available in real-time via smartphones.

“In 30 years there might be branches but they’ll be much smaller, they’ll be kiosks, because if you’ve got a problem that needs to be resolved quickly you’re not going to get in the car and drive in to the branch, this is really inconvenient. If you can solve it with one click or one call, you can do that wherever you are.

“I’m not predicting branches will be gone in 30 years, because there will still be people that want that interaction, I’m just saying that more and more people will find it increasingly convenient to use the phone to do anything that involves real time interaction and transactions.”

The comments are in line with the bank’s move last September to transition its workforce culture to a more flexible “activity-based working” style as opposed to any staff being tethered to their desk.

Harte also commented on the recent outages CBA suffered, causing some customers numerous issues from Netbanking to using EFTPOS, noting the that consumers should only experience 5.86 minutes of critical system downtime per year.

“We’re embarrassed every single time we miss the commitment in critical systems where we’ve committed to deliver five-nines availability,” he said. “We strive for it, we’ve invested in it and we continue to work to it to never be down.

“We’ll continue to invest 10s if not hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure robustness of the systems,” he said.

“When you put new systems in they are inherently unstable for a period and the old ones you’re trying to get rid of that you had no responsibility putting in are really hard to take out which we’re doing in treasury, capital markets and retail banking.”

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More about Australian Internet Industry AssociationCommonwealth Bank of AustraliaCommonwealth Bank of AustraliaFaceTimeInternet Industry Association

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