Rethinking banking and microfinance

Demand for Mobile Solutions

In an offer to make ‘complex things simple’ and driven both by customer demand for mobile access to information and staff demand for tablet access to information, Westpac in Australia is investing $2 billion over the next five years to web-enable its back-end systems, migrate to mobile and speed up its cloud computing plans.

We are ultimately going to move our office infrastructure around a mobile paradigm – recognising that if you move to activity-based working then the types of devices people are using will be tablets, and laptops

What’s fascinating is the speed of adoption. Taking 80 months to rack up 1 million online users and only 30 months to rack up as many on mobile. Naturally Australia is a developed nation but regions like Latin America are only a few years behind the curve, and Africa is also only 3-5 years behind the same levels of penetration.

It’s easy to forget that smartphones only really began to take off in Europe and the US a few years ago for the majority of consumers. And it’s only been in the last year or two that prices have started rapidly coming down with affordable Android phones and strong market competition.

So if banks like Westpac are investing so much in new technology, what are the new financial instutions in emerging markets going to be building their business on? Will they be prepared for the tsunami of new emerging online and mobile users or will they set up for a false alternate reality where Android phones aren’t available for under $100, where internet access is not being considered a basic right and where 3 billion new people aren’t coming online?