In Everyday money on Wednesday 28th Aug, 2019

You can do that with your phone? The crazy bank tech making life easier

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Having a virtual wallet means you’re never caught without the means to pay as long as you have your smartphone with you – and you have money in your account.

If you’re already an old hand when it comes to online banking, you’ll know very well the convenience of checking your balance, paying bills and transferring money without ever visiting a bank branch.

But did you know you can also ask your smartphone about your recent transactions? Send money to family or friends virtually instantly? Use your banking app to talk to a real person, not a phone menu?

Best of all, you can get all this convenience without sacrificing security or having to find a branch. Technology’s changing most of our traditional activities, including banking, so let’s take a look at some recent innovations that could make your life easier.

Switched-on 60-pluses

Kate Pepper Westpac’s head of digital strategy, says older Australians have proved quick to adapt to new technology, with growing numbers embracing online and mobile banking.

Meanwhile, innovations such as facial recognition software, fingerprint login and cardless cash withdrawals and payments have made online and mobile banking not just safer, but more useable – adding to the attraction for all demographics.

“You can go to an ATM without even putting your card in anymore – you’re able to do all your account services online, for example, reporting your card as lost or stolen,” she says. “We now have real-time payments between the banks, so you can make payments to people instantly using the payments platform called Osko.”

If you haven’t already heard of Osko, it was developed by BPAY, the Aussie bill payment technology company. Osko allows users to make almost instantaneous transfers to registered PayID accounts established through your bank, as well as traditional BSB and account numbers. You can find out if your bank offers this service by looking at your payment options online.

Pepper says that if you’re a Westpac customer, it’s now even possible to deposit cheques – the ultimate old-school payment option – to your account using online banking. You just take a picture with your phone and upload it to the Westpac Mobile App, consigning deposit slips to the dustbin of history.

According to Pepper, Westpac is constantly looking at what’s happening in the technology and banking sectors with a view to making the online banking experience even better.

“The integration with Google Assistant and voice banking is a good example,” she says.

Hey Google (or Siri), talk to Westpac

It really is that simple. Once you’ve downloaded the Google Assistant app to your smartphone and linked it to your accounts, you can check your balance, transaction history and even rewards points without lifting a finger, just by speaking to your phone.

You’ll need an Android smartphone to use Google Assistant but if you’re an iPhone owner, Westpac’s also integrated with Siri.

If you’ve got a compatible device at home (or certain smartphones) then you can start using voice banking with Amazon’s Alexa as well.

Sometimes you might be seeking more information about banking services or your accounts, though, and need to talk to a real person. If that’s you, then help is available through the Westpac app on your smartphone.

Once you’ve signed in to your app, you can skip the automated questions and be directed to a banker who can help you, or if you’ve happy to chat online, then you can choose the livechat option and get help 24 hours a day.

If you’re a social media junkie, you can also make Facebook or Twitter work for you by sending a direct message on either of those platforms to Westpac asking for a call back. A word of caution, though – be careful not to enter private banking details in your message, just contact information and a brief note explaining your question or issue.

If you’re not a Westpac customer, ask your bank what assisted and communications options it offers. You could find yourself abandoning branch or telephone banking for a more convenient option!

Make your smartphone (or watch) pay

If you’re tired of juggling multiple transaction and credit cards, Pepper suggests using your phone as a mobile wallet.

Mobile wallets are a type of payment service that lets you store your card details on a smartphone app, so you can make payments at stores that accept your virtual wallet, even if you don’t have your real, physical wallet or card with you.

“We have a choice of a number of mobile wallets, so you can carry your Westpac card on your smartphone and use that smartphone at millions of stores where contactless payments are accepted,” Pepper says. “The technology is Samsung Pay for Samsung smartphones and Google Pay for android smartphones.”

If you’re an active type and have a compatible Fitbit or Garmin watch, you can also leave your cash and cards at home. Once you’ve registered for Fitbit Pay or Garmin Pay, you can use a flash of the phone on your wrist to pay anywhere that accepts contactless payments.

And if you’re worried about the security of using your phone or watch to make card payments, then you needn’t be – because if you’re a Westpac customer, you’re covered by Westpac’s Fraud Money Back Guarantee.

“You will be reimbursed for any unauthorised card transactions, provided you have not contributed to the loss and contacted Westpac promptly. Refer to your card’s conditions of use for full details, including when you will be liable,” Pepper says.

What digital banking technologies have you used so far? Have you found online banking has been more convenient for you or do you still prefer to visit a bank branch and stick to cash payments?

Things to know: The information in this publication is general information and factual only. It does not constitute any recommendation or financial product advice. It is an overview only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. You should consider obtaining your own independent professional advice. Google Play is a trademark of Google LLC. Android is a trademark of Google LLC. Registered to BPAY Pty Ltd ABN 69 079 137 518 © Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.

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