This finance professional urges industry to hasten the move online
PEXA is one of the biggest financial services innovations to have come of age says Bruce Potter, Chief Member Officer for Australian Settlements Limited (ASL). In this interview he urges industry to hasten its move online just as G&C Mutual Bank and Hume Bank have done. In a career spanning more than two decades Bruce is well placed to call for industry reform.
Q. Congratulations for helping your members achieve fast online transactions. How were your first few experiences with G&C Mutual Bank and Hume Bank?
A. The banks entered their respective figures and the funds were transferred out as they should be. We sat back and monitored the transactions. Settlement was same day and within minutes. Our first transaction was seamless for our members G&C Mutual Bank and Hume Bank. Funds went in and out. Adopting modern technology brings a simpler, more efficient way of doing business.
Q. What was involved from your end?
A. ASL is an intermediary – or a wholesale bank for our clients. We make sure settlement occurs and the money is there before the transactions so that funds are seamlessly exchanged. G&C Mutual Bank and Hume Bank interface with PEXA and see it as a high priority. ASL innovates with our members by giving them the solutions they need. We give them options. They have been briefed on PEXA’s benefits and, as a result, have allocated budget within their own operations’ plans.
Q. ASL has offered payment solutions for some time. What effect will PEXA’s arrival have on the property industry?
A. PEXA represents the biggest change that the property market has seen for a long time. I’d like to see the demise of cheques before or by 2020 at the latest. For example, we’ve seen cash removed from daily transactions with tap-and-go functionality. When we have Australia-wide tap-and-go and electronic money exchange we’ll see that happen.
Q. Why does online property exchange matter for your members?
A. PEXA’s arrival is as important as the imminent NPP (New Payment Platform) currently being built by banks, payment companies and the Reserve Bank. The industry has been talking about electronic transactions for some time and should have done it a long time back. It’s a no-brainer. As an industry we need to get our members online sooner. Manual errors are a real problem affecting productivity.
Q. How does transacting online compare with the manual way?
A. After changes were made to PEXA’s system to link ASL we quickly became aware of the customer benefits as we settle about 10 daily transactions. Opportunities include streamlining the process with the land titles offices and getting some solicitors to understand the new way.
Q. Timing-wise, when will all your members get behind electronic property transactions?
A. As we’re all part of a network I’d like to see this happen within the next 18 months. Everyone must play in the same space for it to work.
Q. What are your learnings from working with PEXA and early online adopters’ G&C Mutual Bank and Hume Bank?
A. How simple and more economic it’s going to be for our members to use with cheques becoming a thing of the past. The sooner everyone joins the network the better for banks, credit unions, mutuals and end customers.
Q. Can you explain more about how manual errors put a hand brake on productivity?
A. Try and picture every bank and credit union branch sending their people away from their core business to meet at a location to exchange cheques – you might have 2-3 people out at each time. Then, when you’re on the cusp of exchanging property, manual errors can derail the entire process bringing all parties back to the drawing board – starting over again. That’s an enormous amount of lost time, effort, business and even profit and customer impact.
Q. Which other members have plans to make the move online?
A. At our members’ forum PEXA has presented to ME Bank, G&C Mutual Bank, Arab Bank, Heritage Bank, B&E Personal Banking, AusWide Bank, Community Mutual Group, Gateway Credit Union, Greater Bank, Hume Bank, IMB Bank, Maitland Mutual Building Society, Newcastle Permanent Building Society and Summerland Credit Union.
Q. Consumers have had internet banking, ETPOS and BPAY payment solutions for decades now. What needs to change to take paper out of the equation for property transactions?
A. People are very time poor these days, but better educated and aware. The next step is for consumers to send this search information to the credit unions. Mums and dads can sit at home and decide the level of involvement they want to have. Solicitors will also have a big role.
Q. Why does the digital era matter for you and your members?
A. We need to think about what’s important for people on the street – everyone is looking at better ways to do it. Mutuals can innovate by giving their customers new services and products. We’re seeing the rise of tap-and-go cards and industry is meeting that demand. The mutuals can enable delivering innovative services on the same budget. For example we’ve all been working on a direct connection to the NPP for the past two years. Everyone needs to be conscious of the payments platform and PEXA is very similar in terms of the benefits it brings solicitors, banks, credit unions and mutuals.
Q. Crystal ball gazing time. What’s your ideal future state vision for your industry and clients?
A. Greater customer contact will happen through Skype. We’ll have skyping call centres, biometrics, and voice recognition – all overlaid with security. People want to be easily but securely recognised by their voice over the phone, verifying this with say a thumbprint on the phone. Everything will be done online. The mutuals carefully invest in new technology outlays. Our members will benefit from industry innovation including PEXA.
For more information about becoming PEXA-ready or subscribing to the network please contact Marielle.Yeoh@pexa.com.au, Executive General Manager, Financial Institutions