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Thursday, 06 August 2009 11:56

NAB pioneers 'five minute' online bank account

The battlelines for online banking have been redrawn with the launch of an online bank account by UBank which it claims lets most Australian adults set up an online account in five minutes and access an interest rate of 5.11%.

Although UBank (NAB’s direct banking business) is not the first to offer online account applications, it does offer a speedy process. With little more than a driver’s licence, Medicare card and a couple of personal details, a new USaver account, even for non NAB customers, can be set up in less than five minutes.

In the past the bank acknowledges that most customers needed to visit a branch or complete paperwork to set up an account.

According to Gerd Schenkel, the general manager of UBank; “We expect that a high proportion of USaver applicants will be able to open their account without paperwork.”

Asked how the system can authenticate users without first sighting documents, Schenkel said that customer details are verified by a matching process against government and other reputable databases in accordance with the anti-money laundering (AML) Act. “For security reasons we cannot disclose further details of our fraud monitoring systems.”

Applicants are warned during the process of establishing an account that; “It’s an offence under the Anti Money Laundering/Counter Terrorism Financing Act to provide a false or misleading statement, produce a false or misleading document to receive a UBank product  in false name, or fail to disclose any other name or names you are known by.” Whether that will be sufficient deterrent to keep away identity thieves or money launderers is moot, but UBank appears confident its systems are just as reliable as branch based authentication.

While UBank has been offering online term deposits since last year, this is its first foray into online saving accounts.

The bank believes there is already strong demand, citing research which shows 23% of Australian use the internet to manage their savings account. According to Schenkel “Based on our research we expect the direct banking market to grow at 10% each year for the next five years.”

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