Westpac's launches CashNav app to help customers track spending

Westpac chief digital officer Melissa MacFarlane says 85 per cent of customers use mobile banking.
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Westpac chief digital officer Melissa MacFarlane says 85 per cent of customers use mobile banking.

The cost of a coffee addiction is about to become a lot more apparent for Westpac customers using a new financial tracking app.

On Monday Westpac launches its CashNav app which provides customers with insights into where they are spending their money each month.

Westpac chief digital officer Melissa MacFarlane said other software already helped track spending, but CashNav was the first app in New Zealand to automatically download transactions from bank accounts, including credit and debt cards, and categorise items.

Customers receive alerts after purchases along with a comparison of their spending in that category against the previous month.

READ MORE: Westpac closures reflect bigger trend affecting small town New Zealand

Graphs show spending patterns across the month and categorises spending into wants and needs.

Historical transactions are automatically categorised.

After it was revealed last month that Westpac was proposing to close up to 19 mostly small town branches, economists pointed to advancements in technology reducing the need for physical branches.

Last week New Zealand Institute of Economic Research senior economist Christina Leung​ said technology was disrupting traditional banking methods.

"It's of little comfort to the towns themselves but that's how it works," Leung said.

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"Technology disruption is changing the nature of the labour market and the economy."

MacFarlane said 85 per cent of customers used mobile banking.

"Banking is a lot less about transactions and more about conversations and people are wanting to do that on their mobile device."

Mobile banking was no longer just about transferring funds between accounts or getting a balance, MacFarlane said.

"It is about knowing where your money is, how you're spending it and helping you save and budget."

A recent online survey of 1400 people by Westpac showed that 43 per cent did not know where their money went and 35 per cent only sometimes knew where their money went.

"More worrying, 47 per cent spend more than they earn and 34 per cent sometimes spend more than they earn."

Nearly 80 per cent said tracking spending was a good idea but it was a hassle or they could not find time to do it.

People generally made better decisions when they had good data, MacFarlane said.

 - Stuff

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