TOP TAKES is IoT Sources’ filtered content channel, bringing you the most important breaking news and notable events surrounding the Internet of Things. Today’s post originated and authored by Ry Crozier.

CBA is forging ahead with its first internet of things experiments as it tries to find ways to apply the technology in a digital banking context. The bank this week released a white paper [pdf] on the “machine-to-machine economy”, floating a range of options for how connectivity and data growth might play out on a nationwide basis. The paper’s purpose “was not strictly speaking about financial services” applications, CBA’s head of emerging technology, Dilan Rajasingham, told iTnews. However, Rajasingham indicated it was a call to arms for Australia’s IoT community to “come and learn and experiment with us”.

He confirmed IoT was “a key focus area” for the bank’s emerging technology team. “That will be a proof point [for how the bank can use IoT]”.


Finance has traditionally been looked upon as a tricky vertical for the internet of things, since there is little within its core business that is tangible and can be tracked using sensors. Deloitte last year raised the possibility that banks may look to gather data from customers that can be used to support, for example, lending decisions or the condition of assets under lease.

That kind of thesis is supported by the likes of Infosys: the outsourcer also said there could be applications around some of the physical assets a bank has, such as an ATM network. As CBA progresses with its “live experiment” – and its industry callout – it is likely to become clearer how IoT might find its place in finance. “Digital experiences are constantly changing through the adoption of newer technologies,” Rajasingham said. “In order to figure out how we can be relevant in the broader ecosystem and how we can continue to be relevant to our customers we need to experiment with those technologies and discover what those new experiences are and be proactive about it.” Rajasingham said the bank was keen to explore the future possibility of its “customers” being machines and what that might mean from a banking services perspective. “If automation continues the way it’s going and machines do become autonomous, then what are the financial products and services we can offer machines if they do in fact become ‘customers’ as we like to define it,” he said.


Rajasingham has led emerging technology for the past 3.5 years. The team currently has “about a dozen” direct staff, and looks to partners for deeper skills in areas of focus. The test as to whether or not his team get involved in a particular technology is the horizon at which they believe it will be “commonplace”. “When we define that horizon we use the term commonplace,” he said. “We do lots of PoCs and pilots, and we’ll take some of those technologies into production and we have, but they’re not commonplace yet. We wouldn’t use them across the bank and they wouldn’t be used across financial services. “A classic example is blockchain: we’ve done dozens of blockchain experiments, for example, across different business units solving different problems using common platforms. So lots of PoCs and pilots, but no-one as far as I know has deployed it at scale. “It’s not about when you can utilise the technology, it’s about when you can deploy it at scale.”


Rajasingham said emerging technology relied on “deep relationships” with CBA’s various business units and teams to seed innovative thinking and find ways to apply technology to banking problems. Those relationships “required time and effort to set up, but [have allowed] a real two-way flow between the business and IT”, he said. “We use common platforms to gather ideas such as ‘unleashing innovation’, where ideas are voted on by the [CBA] community and the best of those ideas we experiment with.

Rajasingham also said business units often committed to “co-invest” resources and capabilities into projects run in tandem with emerging technology. “The key is we – IT and the business – are solving these problems together.”

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