As Australia’s largest bank with over 13 million retail customers in a nation of 24 million, discernible trends in the behaviour of Commonwealth Bank customers matter.
To pinch a phrase from the political world, as goes the CBA customer base, so goes the country.
It won’t be a surprise to anyone that digital banking transactions like cashless payments and app usage are growing fast. But CBA pulled back the curtain on some of the hard numbers in its investor presentation today and the growth is astonishing.
There are some broader implications to look at below, but let’s jump into the numbers from CBA’s investor deck today.
Here’s the steady decline of transactions at CBA branches
But it’s not just branches — ATM transactions are falling too, as society moves slowly away from cash
Point of sale transactions — basically tap-and-pay — are now approaching 2 billion a year.
Internet transactions are still growing…
… but these next charts show the explosive growth of new technologies in just three years. There are half a million pay tags in market and cardless cash withdrawals from ATMs are running into millions per month.
And this is the biggest of them all — app activity. There are *27 million logons per week* on the CBA app and a staggering $5.5 billion in transactions every week now.
Importantly, beyond the CBA customer base, it shows the willingness of Australians to adopt financial technology. Australian fintech startups like Spaceship, Acorns, Tyro and others are building products that will encroach on the banks’ markets for everything from wealth management to share trading to property investing.
The lesson from these charts, particularly from those showing the adoption rates of pay tags and cashless payments, is that long-established consumer behaviours with money can change extremely rapidly.
If an app is in enough hands it can be doing very large volumes of transactions very quickly. It doesn’t need to be on the scale of the CBA platform — depending on the product, a few thousands of customers could do the trick to create a strong business platform that can evolve over time.
This is an ongoing threat to Australia’s major banks and is why CBA and others – notably ANZ which is the only major bank with Apple Pay available – are investing aggressively in technology. CBA has built a blockchain, for example, and used it recently to test the creation of a government bond. ANZ has been making high-profile tech executive hires.
CBA’s dominance in the banking sector is unlikely to be shifted any time in the immediate future. While its category leadership has given it a platform for that dominance, the comfort level of consumers with change is a warning against complacency.