Commonwealth Bank rolls out new mobile, tablet apps

Comm Bank claims to be the first Australian bank to have built a web-based Internet banking app optimised for the 'tablet experience'

A screenshot from the Commonwealth Bank iPad app

A screenshot from the Commonwealth Bank iPad app

The Commonwealth Bank today rolled out a suite of new mobile banking applications including NetBank for iPad and Android tablets, and a new CommBank mobile banking app for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7 smartphone platforms.

Citing a growing demand for mobile banking, the Commonwealth Bank says the apps focus on three key areas: simplicity, security and convenience. It said most of its users use mobile banking to check their balances, pay bills and view recent transactions and that the app caters foremost for these needs.

"The key focus is simplicity, security and convenience, particularly simplicity around a small screen," said Andy Lark, Commonwealth Bank's chief marketing and online officer. "We see mobile devices like phones and tablets as an extension of your wallet, and have focussed on enhancing and optimising this mobile experience."

The new mobile banking apps consist of three core functions. The NetBank service allows customers to check transactions, transfer money and pay bills, while the app also includes the CommSec Property Guide (iPhone only) and a new foreign exchange tool kit. The latter allows users to check foreign exchange rates for 33 currencies, and also has calculators for cash rates, Travel Money Card and international money transfers. It allows users to set buying and selling currency alerts, and can track a currency's historical performance over a two year period. [In Focus: Australian Currency Changes 2007 - 2011]

The Commonwealth Bank app also shows you the nearest branch and ATM based on your current GPS location, and includes social media integration with the Bank's Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts. The tablet and smartphone apps are similar, through the apps for the iPad and Android tablets are custom designed to take advantage of the extra screen real estate.

Although a specific Commonwealth Bank app has been developed for three mobile software platforms — iOS, Google Android and Windows Phone 7 — the bank was keen to point out it would develop solutions for the mobile space in general, rather than focus on specific devices or operating systems. It claims to be the first Australian bank to have built a web-based Internet banking app optimised for the "tablet experience."

"The NetBank app has been created with HTML 5 so it works on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet for example," said Lark. It's not just about mobile and tablets, it's about a whole digital ecosystem and long term we want to be device agnostic, to move out of the OS war."

Lark also confirmed that the Commonwealth Bank is currently exploring Near Field Communication (NFC) technology as a future mobile payment system.

"As soon as NFC is ready on devices, we are ready," he said. "NFC is just one part of an evolving payment system."

The new Commonwealth Bank apps can be downloaded now from the iOS App Store, the Google Android Market, while the Windows Phone 7 app will be available in the Windows Marketplace from Thursday 14 July. Alternatively, users with a compatible device can access mobile banking by visiting the Netbank Web site.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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