Gathan Beaga

A National Bank application for iPhone / iPod Touch

[Disclaimer: I used to work with the guys that put this together… and these days I contract for a company owned by the bank in question. OK, that’s out of the way.]

The splash screen for NBNZ iPhone BankingFor the last few weeks I’ve been user-testing a native-iPhone banking application that allows customers of the National Bank of New Zealand access to account and transaction information.

As far as I can tell it’s the first fully native iPhone banking application in existence (Bank of America’s application is, I think, at least in part webpages in an application “wrapper” and therefore in my biased view at least 50% lame). Of course, there are a few other banks around the world with iPhone optimised websites (like KiwiBank, and the ANZ in Australia), but let’s face it, that was so last year.

In fact, given the ponderous timelines and convoluted corporate politics of banks in general it’s a minor miracle the application exists at all, let alone this quickly, a month and a half after the platform became available to customers. There’s a story in there, but it’s not mine to tell.

Anyway, the app itself uses your existing Online Banking username and password, and once downloaded just requires a call to the bank to have your login enabled for iPhone Banking.

I do have a couple of problems with the user interface (the Windows style “x” to log off is just awful), but for the most part it’s all pretty straightforward and probably doesn’t bear explanation. Don’t go looking for transactional functionality yet – it’s not there. Hopefully they’ll add at least Bill Payments and Funds Transfers shortly.

And it’s fast. Very fast. Even on 3G it’s just a couple seconds to get in and get the data. But the best feature, in my opinion, is the semi-hidden preference available in the iPhone-standard System Preferences. It allows “shake to logout”, a feature that can only be described as useless, redundant, and very very cool. No committee of “experts” in “banking” would have struck upon that innovation.

So, if any of you are National Bank customers, and have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, give it a go.