App crash lashes CBA

George Lekakis Financial institutions / Big five & fintech

Commonwealth Bank customers last night were locked out of the bank’s digital services after its internet and mobile banking platforms crashed, an event with acutely unfortunate timing given CBA hoopla earlier in the day around the shiny new CommBank app 4.0.

Services were disrupted from around 4.30pm and persisted for at least four hours into the evening.

A CBA spokesperson declared the systems were returning to life at 7.30pm but access to the internet service was not reliably restored until around 9pm.

The bank did not verify customer reports on social media that the bank’s Eftpos channel and its card-based payments had also been affected by the outage.

Commonwealth Bank will be hoping the improved features of the latest app - which leads retail transaction banking further in the direction of personal financial management - will overcome some of last night’s customer frustration.

CommBank app 4.0 includes a full suite of budgeting and goal-setting tools, a wider range of alerts and prompts, and payment management tools.

The bank will use the app to “guide” customers to the appropriate product, such as a low-rate credit card for customers with a revolving balance.

One tool allows customers to “explore rebates”, such as rebates on government charges and utility bills.

Upgraded security settings include customer-driven payment limits and location-based security, which allows the customer to block transactions outside a designated area.

The bank worked with a team at Harvard University to “gamify” the tools and make them more visual.

“This is a move away from transaction banking to smart banking,” said CBA group executive of retail banking services Angus Sullivan.

CBA has seven million digital banking customers – 5.6 million of them using the app. More than 2.5 million customers have used the digital wallet for Apple Pay, Android Pay or Google Pay.

CBA chief analytics officer Andrew McMullan said the net promoter score for customers who get alerts through the app is much higher than for those who don’t.

McMullan said his team was using machine learning capability to refine its messaging to customers and be more responsive to the message that customers do and don’t want.

What they may well want is closer to 100 per cent uptime and compensation for events such as last night.

The reliability of CBA’s electronic banking channels has deteriorated in the last 12 months.

According to the Down Detector website( there have been 17 service outages at CBA since the start of July last year, including one which last for several days.

However, the frequency of outages at National Australia Bank was more severe. NAB had 27 outages, according to Down Detector archived records.