Australian Banks Prove You Don’t Always Need Native Mobile Apps

Australian Banks Prove You Don’t Always Need Native Mobile Apps

We’re often told that consumers prefer native mobile apps to mobile-optimised web sites, but does that mean organisations have to deliver them? An analysis of Australia’s big four banks by Forrester suggests that a mixed approach — using native functions when helpful, but linking to web sites otherwise — delivers good results.

Mobile banking picture from Shutterstock

Forrester analyst Stephen Walker notes that while this approach is not being used elsewhere in the world, it appears to be delivering results:

Part of the reason Westpac improved so quickly is because it’s taken a hybrid approach. Not because it can’t be bothered to build a native app, but because of the speed at which customers’ expectations are increasing. The bank is carefully combining the power of native interface rendering where it matters – for its branch locator, for example – with the maintenance ease of web-based elements where it doesn’t. NAB is taking a similar approach. This goes against the grain globally, where most banks are either native, or aspiring to be native.

Here are the scores out of 100 Forrester gave to the apps for the big four when it assessed them in May. Westpac receives two scores since it was offering two different versions at the time (which one you received varied). Note also that since the scoring, nearly every bank has made changes — mobile functionality changes rapidly.

We’ve said before that a hybrid approach often makes sense, and this reinforces the point.

Forrester’s 2014 Australian Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark [Forrester]


  • Except when they don’t have a mobile app at all, and the mobile website doesnt work properly (or at all). Like Westpac on Windows Phone 8.1, they have known about an issue with the mobile site not coming up and going to the full desktop version for months, and they still havent fixed it.

    The sad thing is there are multiple apps by westpac on the WP store, there is a st george, bank sa and bank of melb apps, along with a “westpac facts and figures” app but no banking app for westpac.

    And they have a brilliant windows 8 one too which that could port as a universal app.

    • Good luck. Westpac has the worst customer service if you contact them about anything other than online banking. Their ‘security team’ had no idea what heartbleed was after a week of headlines. And asking about an app feature got a marketing response that didn’t answer the question.

    • @si I’ve been using the Westpac site on Windows Phone 8 (lumia 920)for over a year and no problems, including when I jumped to Dev Preview of 8.1

      I access it using a livetile created by Webapps, I don’t know if that makes a difference.

      • I’m using it on a 920 running 8.1 dev preview and the mobile site just loads the desktop page through IE.

        Does this webapps thing use a web browser component to load the page internally? or is it simply a shortcut?

        Having said that I wouldnt be at all surprised if it becomes a non issue when 8.1 update goes live for DP users this week as they have changed the user agent string so it behaves more like IOS or Android

    • Sorry about Westpac, but this is another reason why I’ll stick with commonwealth. Windows Phone got the most recent app update before iOS and Android, as they recognised it needed updating more.

  • Thats weird i HATE the current Westpac iOS app, and think the NAB and ANZ apps are much better from that i can see.

    Take transferring money between accounts, i can do that via INGs app (which i love) in 20seconds, it takes me a few minutes via westpac if it works at all over the crappy optus 3G (well maybe real optus is better than its resold service). Which is why Native is better its much more responsive.

  • annoyingly the old version of the commbank app supported Net Token (RSA Token) but the new app doesn’t forcing users to go to a website instead.

  • Part of the reason I’m with commonwealth is they are the first and best when it comes to internet banking in Australia, and the first and best when it comes to banking apps. When I’ve seen other people who’s banks don’t even provide a mobile site, or the site doesn’t render properly on Android/Windows Phone, I’ll stay put.

  • The current Westpac app has moved the statements into a “more” menu, several steps further in than it used to be. The statements are the only place that show you how much you owe this month, rather than how much you owe total, and what your minimum payment is.

    With more and more people switching to digital statements, this feels like a somewhat sneaky attempt to get around the requirement to show people how much it costs you if you only make minimum payments…

  • Shame on ANZ for coming last. This is what happens when you build something good and then let it languish. ANZ management needs to get it’s shit together fast (and they’ve had more than enough time to do it).

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