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Westpac looks to tech for post royal commission revamp

Westpac looks to tech for post royal commission revamp

Originally posted by Paul Smith @ afr.com

Westpac's top technology executive says a long-running initiative to restructure the way it deals with mountains of customer data will become a focal point of a customer-focused era as the bank looks to regain the community trust eroded by a bruising few weeks at the banking royal commission.

The bank's group chief information officer, Dave Curran, spoke to The Australian Financial Review ahead of a half-yearly results announcement on Monday, which highlighted the growing importance of technology investments and digital transformation to its long-term strategy.

Mr Curran said work on a hugely complex multi-year program known as the Customer Service Hub (CSH), which it has been working on alongside tech giant Oracle since it was first unveiled in 2014, was advanced far enough to already be certain of success in dramatically simplifying the way the bank can track and deal with its thousands of customers.

Westpac describes the CSH as an attempt to implement a one bank, multi-brand operating system, which provides a single and complete view of an individual customer, regardless of which device or channel they are connecting.

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer says start-up investments have positioned the bank to benefit from the rapid technology and data-driven changes in its core markets.Peter Braig

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer says start-up investments have positioned the bank to benefit from the rapid technology and data-driven changes in its core markets.Peter Braig

Mr Curran said new mortgage customers would be originated and handle all aspects of their application process through the CSH by the end of this year. This would allow them to track their progress via any device in the same way they have become accustomed to tracking parcels from online shopping.

"We are looking to reduce our policy documents by more than 45 per cent and three years into this program we continue to track to our original commitments," he said.

"This then sets the pattern for the rest of the organisation, like the St George brand, deposits, transactions and credit cards, which will take a period of time after, but the end of this year is the big milestone as we will have that pattern and we know we can do it."

Lending misconduct

Mr Curran said that, while the huge increase in internal efficiencies from the initiative would be important to the bank's bottom line, the major benefits would come in terms of an improved ability to offer customers what they needed.

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