CBA reaps the benefits of $1.1 billion technology upgrade programme

CBA reaps the benefits of $1.1 billion technology upgrade programme

Commonwealth Bank of Australia says it is beginning to reap the rewards of its $1.1 billion core banking modernisation programme, with a measurable increase in productivity contributing towards a $7.1 billion profit for the year ending 30 June.

The bank, which is approaching the finishing straight in a massive four-year technology upgrade programme, invested $368 million on the core banking initiative this year, migrating the majority of business deposit and transaction accounts onto the new SAP for Banking platform to sit alongside the 10 million retail accounts already on there.

Operating in a tough economic environment, the bank's CEO Ian Narev says the technology investment programme has helped to boost productivity during a period of subdued revenue growth.

"We have worked hard at tailoring our cost base to this new lower growth environment," says Narev. "The significant investment we have made in technology over the last five years has helped us meet this challenge to improve our productivity."

This is reflected in lower cost to income ratios in both the retail and business and private banking divisions, he says. The bank has set a group-wide target of 35% for its cost to income ratio, which currently stands at 46%, representing an increase of 50 basis points over the prior year. However, in retail banking, were the core banking programme is beginning to make an impact, the CTI score was 31.8%, reflecting a 50 basis points uplift.

Across the group, IT expenses decreased by three percent to $1,159 million, driven by "disciplined vendor expense management, efficiency gains from on demand infrastructure improvements and de-commissioning of legacy systems".

Narev says the strong cost discipline has enabled the bank to continue to invest in tactical technology projects in both the online and mobile channels.

The bank - which currently claims 4.25 million active online customers and has recorded 460,000 downloads of its Kaching mobile banking app - in July announced plans to release its own point-of-sale tablet and iPhone attachment coupled with a new API developer portal.

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