Elliott foresees a ‘bionic bank’

Banking Day staff Financial institutions / Big five & fintech
'Hello ANZ. Do you even do Osko payments?'
'Hello ANZ. Do you even do Osko payments?'

New revenue streams and simpler banking models were on the mind of ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott yesterday, as he welcomed 7000 delegates to the Sibos carnivale in Sydney.

He saw a future bank as one with a blend of technology for day-to-day banking and human interaction for the important transactions in customers’ lives.

Before he got to his vision of the bionic bank, though, Elliott – in conversation with Juliette Foster from Sibos TV – started with the bold assertion that the New Payments Platform “is not particularly innovative” – a claim disputed later in the day by Alain Raes, SWIFT CEO for Asia Pacific.

Elliott expanded on his reasoning: “For Australia, it might be innovative, and it has been a massive investment for the industry to be able to make real-time payments.

“I think it’s really exciting [locally], although on a global scale is not particularly innovative. We join about 40 economies around the world that have something that looks or feels like [the NPP real-time payments], although ours is better.”

But more importantly, for Elliott the real data capabilities that have been opened up are what counts.

“The banks have been so focused on getting [NPP capability in place] quickly and responsibly,” he said, “and we haven’t turned our minds to all the doors that this technology will open up for us, and for fintechs.”

He called the NPP “one of those core pieces of infrastructure, a vital ingredient in building for the future.”

Another of those ingredients is open banking – giving customers access to and direct ownership of their data.

“When these two come together we’ll see new revenue streams,” Elliott predicted.

He also predicted a continuation of the trend towards simpler banking models.

“One lesson to be learnt from other industries is the danger of complacency, after 30 years of uninterrupted growth – the longest run in the OECD. The other [lesson] is that people can survive in this disruptive world are those that can adapt at speed to changing customer needs, something that is difficult to do in a large organisation,” he said.

“Over time we found that the complexity of running a universal bank with all the compliance has made it less and less efficient.

“We think the only way to win in the future is to do a few things, and to do them really well. Just turning up and being a bank is no longer good enough.”

The other aspect of the future for banking, as Elliott saw it, the increased move towards what he called “partnering as a business model”.

“We will partner with other people who are really good at what they do, for example, with Apple Pay, and learn from them.

Foster pushed him to disclose the emerging technologies that have attracted his interest, and he named these as: machine learning, artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technology, although was reluctant to predict how they would end up.

“I don’t think I need to,” he said.  “We’ve got to be willing to experiment and learn to adapt, and that is as much a cultural issue as it is about the technology – for example, mobile phones are our number one customer engagement tool. Ten years ago no-one would have seen that.”

And lest the audience come away thinking the future belonged to machines, Elliott explained that ANZ’s research shows “people want to talk to somebody [at a bank] when they doing something that they feel is important to themselves – making a life changing decision, for instance, buying a home, or starting a business.”

Elliott suggested the phrase “the bionic bank” – referencing the 1970s TV show for those old enough to remember it – as an image of the banking model of the future.

For those who were perplexed, he explained that is was a blend of people and technology.