Westpac Group celebrates 20 years of Internet banking

Westpac Group celebrates 20 years of Internet banking

Maps out Internet banking of the future

Westpac Group celebrates 20 years of Internet banking

Westpac Group celebrates 20 years of Internet banking

St.George Bank has reached a major milestone in being one of the first banks in Australia and one of the first globally to launch Internet banking services 20 years ago.

Back in December 1995, Advanced Bank acquired by St.George Bank, paved the way to provide customers with 24/7 banking with the rollout of the C++ Internet banking program, which was downloaded by 350 customers in the first month.

Twenty years later, the Westpac Group has grown to have more than 5.8 million customers logging on to its Internet banking platform.

Westpac social, mobile and digital team head, Dhiren Kulkarni, who also worked closely on the St.George Internet banking system, said the 20 year anniversary marks one of his biggest career milestones.

“By applying the bank’s test and learn strategy, we launched the first phase which enabled customers who had access to a personal computer and the Internet to be able to view their transactions. Six months later we rolled out the second phase so customers could view their account history, make transfers, third-party payments and term deposits.

“The launch was a huge success and I’m very proud to play a part in bringing internet banking to life and revolutionising the way our customers interact with us today,” Kulkarni said.

Westpac head of customer experience for digital, Ian Muir, was the brainchild behind Westpac’s Internet banking platform which launched in 1998.

He said the design of Internet banking has evolved.

“This may be hard to believe, but the usual process back then was to mail out floppy disks with software to our customers to install onto their PC so they could access their bank account details.

Read more: ANZ upgrades its Internet banking experience

“I wanted to create a customer solution beyond sending out floppy disks and build an internet banking system which applied the practice of usability and human centered design which we used to develop Westpac’s website. This technique allowed us to create a fully functional internet banking system which was revolutionary at the time,” he said.

“The visual design was simple and text-based and it held the test of time. We paired back all the graphics so it was fast enough for people to use as there was no such thing as high speed Internet at the time.

“This more simplified Internet banking system stayed around for 15 years and was the precursor to today’s more sophisticated Westpac Live. I was proud it lasted so long – in Web year’s that’s a life time!” Muir added.

But Muir said it’s hard to predict the future of Internet banking given that it has changed so much in 20 years.

“The future of Internet banking is going to be a very interesting because the resources that used to be scarce, like bandwidth and storage, are no longer constraining us or limiting our possibilities. Essentially, where scarcity disappears, the unimaginable rapidly becomes reality allowing us to deliver benefits to customers in new and exciting ways.

“I think there’s definitely something in wearable devices and the way we think, act and interact with technology. Also I think the intelligence layer around the ability to create instantaneous insights in the moment on customers is an emerging trend and the sort of thing that will shape the future of Internet banking,” he said.

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