Banking app 'world first'

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 05:00 06/08/2014
APPTITUDE: Westpac's new app uses augmented reality.

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Westpac has developed what it says is the world's first banking app to use augmented reality for account management.

Users can slide their credit or debit card in front of their phone's camera and see 3D graphics of balances, transactions, spend locations and other data pop up on screen. They can also interact with the visuals to make payments, categorise spending, and find the closest branch or ATM.

The app will be made available to customers next month, and was the winning concept from the bank's crowd-sourcing initiative in Britain.

Chief digital officer Simon Pomeroy said not so long ago augmented reality was considered "a futuristic prop in the movies".

But rather than being a gimmick, he said it had the potential to change people's lives as much as the internet and mobile phone.

The obvious evolution for the technology is to integrate it with the wearable Google Glass, which Pomeroy said would not be difficult to do.

The bank is already trialling a simple balance-checking application for the voice-commanded micro-computer before it becomes available to the public.

The iOS augmented reality app would also be available on Android-based devices by the end of the year.

The current format was just the beginning, with future updates including payments and transfers between accounts, as well as making the bank's full "hotpoints" rewards catalogue visible, he said.

Westpac's other digital innovations include a trial of a "digital wallet" smartphone app for making contactless payments, jumping the gun on an industry-wide collaboration. 

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