Australia's best bank for SMEs 2018: Westpac
We’ve taken these two awards together this year, thanks in large part to an obvious idea Westpac introduced to make life easier for its army of small and medium-sized enterprise clients. Westpac positions itself as Australia’s bank for business. It claims to have banking relationships with more than a million business customers, or half of all Australian businesses, and is the primary banker for about 25% of that million; it holds A$111 billion ($79.8 billion) of their deposits while lending them a collective A$150 billion.
The bank’s new ‘Biz Invoice’ tool allows Westpac’s 550,000-plus SME clients to run their back end from anywhere, with an integrated invoice payment platform that lets them create and send invoices directly through the Westpac app at any time. The app was launched in time for the Christmas rush and is part of chief executive Brian Hartzer’s A$1 billion push into digital that he flagged soon after joining in 2015. And it seems like a no-brainer. Westpac’s general manager of SME banking, Ganesh Chandrasekkar, reckons Biz Invoice could save clients as much as a work day a week that would ordinarily be spent doing invoices and basic administration. He says Biz Invoice also enables businesses to get a better grip on their cash flow during the festive season and beyond.
Westpac is also focused on smoothing regulatory compliance hurdles for its customers, no small matter in the wake of the banking royal commission in Australia. Westpac and Deloitte, in a piece of joint research, estimated that the annual cost of regulation in Australia is about A$100 billion, that small businesses spend an average of 12 hours a week completing paperwork to comply with government regulations, and eight hours a week chasing up invoices.
Chandrasekkar says Biz Invoice has given Westpac a head start before Canberra’s official standardization of e-invoicing in 2019. The joint study predicts that with the embrace of e-invoicing, Australia’s businesses could reap benefits of up to A$28 billion over the coming decade.