Westpac, the Australian bank and financial-services provider, is forging a path to the future with “conversational banking” and the development of blockchain technology.

From this week, customers with the latest iPhones (iOS 11 and above) will be able to move money by simply issuing voice commands to their phone’s digital assistant and taking a scan of their face, The Age reported.

Around 80% of the bank’s digital transactions already take place through mobile and its chief executive of consumer banking believes that this presages a shift to a new form of banking.

“If you look at smartphone users, about half of them now are using voice assistants,” George Frazis said. And the proportion is higher among 25-34 year olds, “so you can see that this trend is just going to increase”.

“The future of banking is conversational banking,” he declared.

Initially, bank customers will only be able to check account balances and move money to other people’s accounts via Siri, but Frazis anticipates new features being added over time, including paying bills and dispensing financial advice.

“The opportunities for this down the track are quite immense,” he said.

Over on the corporate banking side of the business, Westpac is developing a procurement platform based on blockchain technology.

“Corporate Australia is crying out for insights about their businesses, and the data we have about their sectors can have such a big impact and be packaged in such a way that we can provide more insights,” said Didier Van Not, Westpac corporate and institutional banking general manager.

“It’s not about selling the data, but generating insights,” he told the Australian Financial Review.

Van Not added that technological developments are having an unexpected effect in how Westpac views itself. “Looking at the bank nowadays, we’re a technology company with a banking licence,” he said.

Sourced from The Age, Australian Financial Review; additional content by WARC staff