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Westpac sees more digital banking, launches budgeting app

BUSINESSDESK: Westpac Banking Corp, New Zealand's second-biggest bank by assets, is continuing its push toward digital technology by launching a free budgeting application for smart mobile phones.

The local unit of the Australian bank has launched the application after an online survey found a glaring hole in New Zealanders' budgeting nous.

Westpac's move is the latest in a series of initiatives to increase its digital footprint towards where it sees more mechanical banking transactions taking place.

"We think banks are going to change enormously in the next decade," Callum Wilson, general manager of strategy, productivity and innovation told BusinessDesk. "It's absolutely going to be about social media, mobile and a whole suite of digital interaction, and we need to get on the front foot."

Westpac has already launched a mobile app that lets people put cash into savings at the touch of a button, and another that gives them an update on their bank balance.

The bank's cash-tank app gets about 20,000 requests a day and was driven by the 100 million annual balance queries Westpac receives.

Mr Wilson says the shift towards greater use of new devices for some banking will not end the need for physical branches, with certain services needing face-to-face interaction.

The new budgeting app, which is available to anyone, will let users plug in their personal financial information against the backdrop of Statistics New Zealand's database to help measure various budget targets.

The bank's dual listed shares fell 0.8% to $30.90 on the NZX today.