The National Australia bank quietly launched an Android banking application for its customers this week, further enhancing the utility of Google’s phone operating system. Android as a platform has grown in app variety immensely in 2010.
While it still lags the iPhone in terms of sheer app numbers, from a productivity viewpoint there’s generally an Android app to match its iPhone counterparts in functionality, although not always aesthetics.
The NAB Android app
Banking’s one area where Android’s still in catchup mode, however. Of the “big four” banks, the NAB is the only one with a dedicated Android application under its own brand name. It’s a free application readily found in the Android marketplace.
The app allows for account balance checks, funds transfers, bill payments and access to NAB Online Trading portfolios. There’s also inbuilt functionality to find the nearest ATM and check foreign exchange rates.
St George, Westpac, Commonwealth, ANZ
The smaller banks do have some offerings; a quick search of the Android marketplace on an HTC Desire running Android 2.2 unearthed apps for St George and BankSA, which means Westpac gets in by proxy.
Searching for “Commonwealth Bank” will net you three applications, none of them official, and they’re all only launchers for the Commonwealth bank Web site.
There’s a similar free, unofficial app for the ANZ web site on Android. We could find plenty of “Credit Union” applications, but none that seemed to apply to any Australian Credit Unions.
So what’s an Android user to do?
As the prevalence of Web site launching applications suggests, if you want to do your online banking from Android, you’re currently stuck with the browser alternative for most banking services.
If you’re feeling particularly paranoid, however about the Android browser caching pages, there is an alternative. For more secure Android browsing, you could use your Android phone as a tethered modem (or WiFi hotspot, depending on Android model and installed operating system) to a notebook or desktop that can interface directly with the bank’s infrastructure - presuming, that is, that your notebook or desktop’s security is also up to date.