Last season brought little on-field joy for Gold Coast Suns fans but the game day experience was first-class, partly thanks to a new food and drink-focused smartphone app.

Fans were able to sidestep lengthy queues and instead order – and pay – for food and beverages from the comfort of their own seats. Metricon Stadium staff were then able to quickly fulfil their orders for nearby pickup using location-based technology.

“Removing that friction from a customer perspective is really important,” says Jon Davey, NAB’s Executive General Manager of NAB Labs, which created the app.

“Understanding changes that are taking place in other industries, and applying those to our customers, is absolutely critical.”

It is just one of several innovative products to be launched since NAB Labs, the bank’s ideas incubator, was set up in late-2015 (NAB also set aside $50 million for the NAB Ventures fund, which invests in new innovation ventures).
If the organisation’s culture prevents an outcomes-focused mindset, then behaviour really can be a challenge

Challenges remain

But launching innovative products and services within a huge and successful organisation – and potentially disrupting more traditional ways of doing business – is not without its challenges.

Davey says they include out-dated policies, out-dated processes, legacy technology, and culture and mindset – the latter being crucial.

“You can overcome some of the other things but if the organisation’s culture prevents an outcomes-focused mindset, then behaviour really can be a challenge,” he says.

It is a key reason why NAB Labs has involved 650 bank staff in various projects over the past 12 months and introduced another 3000 people to the innovation hub. The cultural overhaul is having an impact.

In June, the bank launched NAB QuickBiz Loans, which allows small businesses to apply for up to $50,000 in unsecured loans via an online platform and receive an automated credit decision within minutes.

Davey says the project took NAB Labs just 14 weeks from conception to launch.

“Two years ago that was not something that we would have been able to do – I think we’re getting better but the challenge is constantly there.”
NAB Labs asks two questions to help sharpen its focus: what industries or changes in customer behaviour represent a threat or opportunity, and can the bank then offer a genuine innovation to meet it?

Finding Focus

While there’s a mind-boggling array of potential areas to work on, Davey says NAB Labs asks two questions to help sharpen its focus: what industries or changes in customer behaviour represent a threat or opportunity, and can the bank then offer a genuine innovation to meet it? Taking a “human-centric approach” when fleshing out potential innovative ideas then minimizes the bank’s risk.

“We engage our customers in the development of products and services from day one. Then we'll focus on getting what we think of as a minimum viable product to market as quickly as we can. This mitigates the risks associated with spending a lot of money on a product or capability that our customers don’t want or won’t value.”

Another key innovation set to launch later this year which will benefit all customers is NAB’s new mobile banking app.

It features world-leading card transaction controls, which will make it easier for customers to self-manage their personal Visa debit and credit card through their mobile device, and allows customers to use newly approved personal Visa credit cards through NAB Pay for contactless transactions without having to wait to receive their physical card in the mail.
We are doing a lot of customer research both in our market and other markets to be able to look at the opportunities

New alliances

The payments sector forms a key component of the fintech arms race currently underway but Davey says it is just one of many opportunities in the market.

The New Payments Platform (NPP), an industry-wide initiative which will allow real-time payments from 2017, is currently being built and has also factored into NAB’s plans. Similarly, BPAY is building the NPP’s first overlay service currently called the Initial Convenience Service (ICS), which will launch in 2017.

“We are doing a lot of customer research both in our market and other markets to be able to look at the opportunities,” he says.

The bank is looking at how new technologies have reshaped other industries and is also partnering with organisations on a similar innovation-focused journey, such as Telstra and the University of Melbourne.
It is also working with other banks through a new international banking innovation alliance which includes Israel’s Bank Leumi and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

The banks plan to share information, innovation strategies and potentially bolster networks with start-ups. NAB and CIBC have already conducted a trial of blockchain technology using the Ripple distributed ledger.

“We believe that the way financial services are provided is changing on a global basis and therefore we want to understand changes taking place in other markets.”
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
Published by BPAY Pty Ltd.  BPAY is offered by over 150 Financial Institutions. Contact your Financial Institution to see if it offers BPAY and to get the terms and conditions. This is general advice – before using BPAY please review the terms and conditions and consider whether BPAY is appropriate for your personal circumstances.