NAB CEO Ross McEwan sat down with the Morning Call Weekend Edition to give his take on the Australian economy and the year ahead.
In a wide-ranging discussion, host Phil Dobbie unwrapped the NAB boss’ view on Australia’s housing affordability crisis and the role of AI – both in helping to counter cybercrime, as well as in the day-to-day operation of the bank.
Focus on solving housing in 2024
Mr McEwan said the housing crisis presented a supply and demand issue in Australia, suggesting higher density housing as one solution.
“One thing that I’ve kept stressing is if the state governments made sites available and building approval faster, this would help our developers and our builders get shovels in the ground and get on with development,” Mr McEwan said.
“We probably need to think about where else we could develop housing sites or apartment building sites that are close to the hubs of transport.
“Otherwise, we’ve got governments needing to spend more and more on transportation facilities, the underground railways, such as the big tunnelling that’s been going on in Sydney and same here in Melbourne.
“As we get into 2024, we need to make it easier for our developers just to get on and do what they’re great at, which is to develop property sites and build houses or apartment buildings, which is desperately needed here in Australia.
“We’re committed at NAB to social and affordable housing. We’ve put aside $6 billion between now and the end of 2029 to assist developers get these properties up and going.”
Fighting against scams and fraud
Speaking to the Morning Call during Scams Awareness Week, Mr McEwan was asked about the banks key focus areas for 2024. He singled out continuing the banks focus on keeping customers safe from cybercrime, fraud and scams.
“Two big issues for us…one is scams and the other one is around keeping our customers safe from cyber and fraud,” Mr McEwan said.
“That also is a nightmare for customers. And those are the two big ones because our job is to keep our customers safe and sometimes that’s going to slow things down like payments.
“A good safe bank, looking after customers, that’s what we’ll continue to do as we head into 2024.”
AI to help stop cybercrime
As scammers continue to adapt their attacks, Mr McEwan said fighting back with AI was critical.
“This is getting more sophisticated and therefore we need to use artificial intelligence to help our customers. We can see some of these scams and alert and stop things happening,” Mr McEwan said.
“Artificial intelligence could take your voice, my voice, and duplicate it within three seconds of listening to it. So, these are things we’re going to have to circumvent against as well. And we’ve got a number of technologies that we’re using to fight against what’s going on both in the scams and in the cyber world.”