CommBank Is Changing Its Approach To Technology By Running A Bunch Of Startup Projects In-House

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Securing technology advantages is no longer about vast investments in one-off enterprise-scale projects at the Commonwealth Bank.

With a bunch of financial startups challenging the existing banking industry the incumbents are having to operate a little differently to maintain their edge.

CBA is shifting its approach to innovation by launching a bunch of small, agile projects in a case of what looks like trial and error to see what ideas work and what don’t.

Under the leadership of its new chief technology officer David Whiteing, who took on the role at the end of August, the bank is essentially running the equivalent of a bunch of startups in-house.

“The days of the big projects are over, we are not doing $100 million projects, we are tending to break it up into smaller pieces with faster cycle times,” Whiteing told the Australian Financial Review.

The idea is by breaking innovation up into smaller chunks, the bank will be able to deploy new products or features at speed – much like how startups develop, producing a minimal viable product and iterating it on the run.

“There is definitely still work to be done if I compare and contrast to other more modern businesses that haven’t been around as long as us. This is around cleaning up and making the business as simple and stabilised as possible in the operational side as it is in the front end,” Whiteing said.

CBA is also looking at opening up its data including bank feeds and forex to allow smaller developers to connect to its APIs and promote further development using its information.

“In the future we will look to see what we could do around private APIs, where people may want to create a Mandarin banking app for example,” Whiteing said.

“We would allow someone else, within certain parameters, to consume our APIs that give people account and balance and payment information in a secure way.”

The bank is also looking at cleaning up and streamlining its numerous back end systems which it has accumulated over the years through growth and acquisition activities.

“This moves us away from a mindset of having to try and predict the future and place bets that could be either right or wrong. We will be able to react really quickly to what we see as an emerging consensus,” he said.

There’s more here.

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