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CommBank targets shoppers with in-app deals and digital loyalty cards

CommBank is helping customers ditch the plastic with a new app feature that lets them digitise their loyalty cards, plus a new trial will see Westfield shoppers pinged with Bluetooth-targeted deals while they shop.

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The CommBank Offers app (left) is entering trial stages, while a new Loyalty feature will let customers ditch their physical loyalty cards. Commonwealth Bank

Commonwealth Bank may be a business concerned with helping people save their money, but now it's going to help customers spend it with two new retail-focused initiatives to expand its mobile wallet offering.

The financial institution today announced the launch of a new "Loyalty" feature in its CommBank mobile banking app to let customers digitise their physical retail loyalty cards, as well as a new "Offers" app that will ping customers with targeted retail deals when they're shopping inside Westfield shopping centres.

The two developments come as part of a wider push in the mobile wallet space for CommBank, with a raft of recent developments across mobile, tablet and wearables. After launching its revamped CommBank app in December 2013, the bank has since introduced features such as Cardless Cash, built-in NFC payments for Android smartphones and, more recently, its first app for wearables.

Now, the bank is making a bold play at the retail market, with the hopes of winning over more customers and keeping them within the CommBank ecosystem by fully integrating users' loyalty cards into its mobile banking app.

The "Loyalty" feature lets app users scan the barcode on their traditional loyalty cards, allowing them to ditch the extra plastic in their wallet for a more streamlined digital experience.

Both Android and iOS users will be able to scan their loyalty barcode at participating checkouts and then continue to make a mobile payment with Tap & Pay. However, the lack of built-in NFC on the iPhone means iOS users will still need one of CommBank's physical PayTags on their phone to make tap purchases.

CommBank has already signed on a number of businesses on for its Loyalty feature, including Country Road, Dymocks, Flybuys, Medibank, Myer, Priceline, T2 and Witchery.

In a similar spending vein, CommBank has also inked a deal with Scentre Group, owners and operators of Westfield shopping centres across Australia, to launch a pilot program to offer targeted, location-based deals in its retail centres.

While retailers have slowly been jumping on Bluetooth beacon technology as a way of pinpointing customers in stores for real-time, micro-targeted deals, the partnership between two such major brands in the banking and retail space could be just what beacon technology needs to hit the mainstream.

A separate download to the regular mobile banking app, the CommBank Offers app targets users based on their location in a shopping centre, detected using Bluetooth beacons dotted throughout Westfields.

Once users have opted in to receive deals, they will get geo-targeted offers sent to their mobile. They can choose to save a deal for later (by pressing a heart-shaped favourite icon) or swipe to a Redeem screen which they can show to a retailer for an immediate discount, making the payment using Tap & Pay or with a regular card or cash.

CommBank executive general manager of retail products and strategy, Angus Sullivan, said Offers would start as a "targeted pilot" that is "geographically constrained" to particular Westfield centres in the early stages. The bank has launched its first pilot at Westfield Hornsby in Sydney running until December 31, 2015, with 20 retailers already signed up to use the Offers app.

Update October 13 at 10:00 a.m. AEST: Added information about Offers pilot and Loyalty availability on iOS.