Thursday, 28 June 2018 12:23

New ‘digital bank’ takes shape with plans to challenge the Big Four

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Robert Bell (left) and Anthony Thomson, executives of the 86 400 digital bank Robert Bell (left) and Anthony Thomson, executives of the 86 400 digital bank

A new digital bank with the name 86 400 is being set up in Australia and it is pitched by its founders as a potential “genuine alternative” to the big four banks.

The newly launched bank is still in the process of seeking a full banking licence and plans to launch in beta by the end of this year.

The company boasts in an announcement today that it has UK “neobank veteran”, Anthony Thomson, former ANZ Japan chief executive Robert Bell and former Cuscal chief information officer Brian Parker as part of its 60-strong team.

The new bank says it is fully funded and backed by Cuscal — Australia’s largest independent provider of end-to-end payments solutions — and its business plan is focused on “building the first real alternative to the big banks and anticipates requiring in excess of $250 million of capital over the first three years of operation, with additional shareholders expected over that period”.

Craig Kennedy, Cuscal managing director, said, “86 400 has been set up and funded by Cuscal, as a separate entity, with a separate board, and completely separate team. We’ve backed 86 400 because nobody in Australia is leveraging all of the capabilities available to maximise the banking experience on your mobile.”

Incoming chair of 86 400, Thomson, says, “Australians deserve more from banking. They expect better treatment and a better experience, and that’s exactly what we’re here to provide.”

The bank says it intends to launch to the public in the first quarter of 2019, “complete with a transaction and savings account from day one”.

It says further financial products will be added over time and it has been working closely with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and is already well progressed into the process of obtaining a full banking license.

Bell said: “In order to compete with the big banks, we not only need to offer the full range of services, but we also need to do things differently. 86 400 will have a beautiful, intuitive app, but that won’t be where it ends. We’ve invested a huge amount of energy into building a bank that is technology-led from the start.

“The crucial thing is the interplay between the core banking ledger and the technology. The technology has to work with the ledger, not for it. Only then will customers have a bank that’s working for them. That’s exactly what we’re building.”

According to Thomson “because 86 400 will ultimately have a lower cost ratio than a traditional bank — completely free of expensive, cumbersome legacy technology and physical branches — we’ll be able to provide better value products for customers and better returns for our investors”.

“For too long, banks have put profits before their customers – that’s become the great malaise of the industry. We firmly believe that profit is a by-product of doing something great for the customer.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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