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Australian banks lead global digital race

Australian banks are outperforming their peers in North America and Europe as the transition to digital services rolls out but a new report has found there is still more work to do.

The top 10 banks, including Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, National Australia Bank, Westpac and one mutual bank, are offering retail customers a wider range of account products online compared to their international counterparts, according to a new report by software developer for the banking industry Avoka.

Avoka's second annual Digital Sales report looked at the capability of 32 of the largest banks in Australia, North America and Europe to acquire customers over digital channels and evaluated their progress since 2016.

Avoka chief marketing officer Don Bergal said advances in digital and mobile service were not uniform across the industry or in different countries.

"The biggest surprise was the amount of progress that a few big banks have made ... there were some notable exceptions, three in particular in Australia who showed very significant improvements over the 2016 numbers," Mr Bergal said.

Mr Bergal said digital technology was adopted early in Australian banking and that was a possible factor in the results.

"Maybe it's an attitude of the Australian banks that they wanted to be early adopters," he said.

"The market is a bit smaller, it's a bit less of a risk and maybe easier to implement and so they've been further ahead."

Australia's developed superannuation industry also forced the Australian financial services industry and consumers "into a digital mindset earlier than you see in other countries", Mr Bergal said.

The report found that there had been major improvements in customer acquisition for personal banking products, with a big increase in the banks' ability to offer products via mobile platforms.

The number of personal banking products that could be set up using a mobile device jumped 10 per cent in Australia, compared with nine and eight per cent rises in North America and Europe, respectively.

Banks have primarily focused their efforts on the consumer and personal banking segment instead of the business and wealth management segments, which is more complicated and requires more documentation, the report found.

To retain their edge, Australian banks need to keep ahead of the "disruptors" coming from the fintech market, Mr Bergal said.

"The challenge is going to come from non-banks, who offer great customer experience, who offer new products, and if the traditional banks don't keep up and do what we're measuring in that survey, someone is going to eat their lunch," he said.