NAB predicts the future of digital banking in 2018

By Stuart Marsh

NAB’s executive general manager of digital and innovation, Jonathan Davey, said the biggest innovation for customers will be the ability to speak to the bank through digital “chatbots”.

“We live in a world that wants instant gratification. We want quick answers and problems that are solved immediately – we don’t want to be left waiting. Our lives are busier than ever before,” said Davey.

“NAB has 450,000 business customers and every year they call our contact centre, go into a branch or talk to their business banker around $275 million.

“But, chatbots embedded into digital channels are becoming more prevalent and people are becoming more comfortable using them to get the answers they need to simple questions.”

Davey predicts that as more Australians incorporate voice-activated devices like Google Home into their living rooms, they will begin to use them for banking transactions.

“It won’t be long before we see these devices becoming common in every household and having the capability to provide consumers with the ability to perform more personalised tasks, like being able to tell you your bank account balances or transaction history,” says Davey.

“In the future we could see this turning into an experience where you can buy products, like groceries or a new TV, all by speaking to your voice-activated device, while you’re sitting on your couch.”

He also believes Australia is marching towards a society without cash, as consumers begin to take advantage of the soon-to-be-activated New Payments Platform which promises instant money transfers even on weekends.

“Think about Uber – you pay for your Uber at the end of a trip without even really thinking about it,” says Davey.

“These sorts of experiences, where the payment of goods or services is processed in the ether, will become more common.

“The future will be a place where the need to see a receptionist or checkout is gone as we move towards a cashless society.”


The pressure on NAB to deliver a seamless digital experience has increased significantly since November 2017, when CEO Andrew Thorburn announced that the bank would cut up to 4,000 jobs and repurpose 2,000 more to align the bank with customer’s digital expectations.

“What we’re doing is we’re simplifying the bank. And as we simplify, we automate processes and things move to digital channels, we will need less people and as that happens we estimate that there will be 6000 less people needed in three years’ time,” Thorburn said at the time.

“Having said that, we’re hiring 2000 people with different capabilities: data scientists, AI, robotics, automation, technology people, digital people, so the net will be 4000 and that’s just a reshaping that’s going to happen.”

NAB’s restructuring of the workforce is expected to cost the bank $500 to $800 million in the first half of 2018.