Westpac CIO: “Banks no longer provide products”

Elizabeth Barry 4 May 2018 NEWS

Oracle CloudWorld event

Dave Curran on the change currently taking place in banking

With open banking, open data, the Royal Commission into Banking and comprehensive credit reporting all playing right now in Australia, to say our banking industry is undergoing changes would be an understatement. But according to Westpac's chief information officer (CIO) Dave Curran, the real big shift that has taken place in recent years is the move from banks selling products to selling services.

"As organisations recognise they don't sell products, they provide services, that's a massive shift. I think one of the things we're seeing in the bank royal commission is seeing that shift is hard; it's really hard," Curran said in the keynote at this week's Oracle CloudWorld event in Sydney.

"In some ways, technology is both providing that challenge and offering solutions to that challenge."

According to Curran, the old "bank vs fintech" debate has been put to bed and now banks and fintechs are eating at the table together. This allows smaller, agile startups to leverage the large-scale capabilities of banks while banks are able to benefit from new innovations from startups.

"The fintechs can do things we can't do. They can do it faster," he said.

"[But] some of the fintechs don't have the business logic we have; they don't have the capability to deal with regulation, to handle the compliance, handle the large scale of data and business logic we have. So, that coming together I think is a massive change in service to customers."

In terms of what technology banks are focusing on, Curran said cloud was "one of the biggest drivers" but that artificial intelligence (AI) is also on the cards despite being more of a challenge. But while banks are moving towards these new technologies, they still have several difficulties to contend with. For Curran, this is infrastructure and talent.

"We own data centres, why? We’re a bank. Infrastructure is not something I see as core to a bank going forward in the future; we need to leverage what's out there and leverage the capabilities of others."

Curran also said the way we develop talent "has to change".

"Where technology is going is actually bringing to an end the old model of that skill is now redundant therefore that person is redundant. I have to go and hire a new skill. That's not possible. And for most of us in this room we live in Australia, which means we're in a smaller market further away from everybody else's; we have to change how we actually create an ever-growing skill set so change is our constant."

"Constant change is where we work."

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