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New ‘Digital Banks’ Emerge To Challenge Australia’s Big Four

Australia has two new banks this week, both claiming to be either digitally or cloud-based and to offer a better experience than any of the Big Four banks – the CBA, ANZ, Westpac and National – despite being considerably smaller.

The Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has launched a bank called “Up” while two Sydney-based banking execs have set up “Volt”, which they say is the nation’s first “digital or neobank”. Both are looking to steal business from the Big Four, all of which have been suffering from disclosures in the Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industries.

Up, which is claiming to be Australia’s first fully licensed and all-in-app mobile banking platform – is said to have been developed by South-Melbourne based technology outfit Ferocia. 

“Up exists to simplify peoples’ lives and help them to create financial freedom through technology, innovation and creativity,” said Ferocia and Up co-founder Dom Pym this week. 

Up is hosted on Google Cloud and its aim is to present mobile banking in “the most ‘non-bank’ way possible,” Pym said. 

Meanwhile Volt claims it is the nation’s first “digital or neobank” and says it is looking to challenge the way banking is done Down Under.

Volt was founded by  former Barclays and National Australia Bank executive Steve Weston and colleague Luke Bunbury, a former St George exec. It’s officially described as an “APRA-related restricted authorised deposit-taking institution.”

APRA – the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority – granted Volt’s licence earlier this week. It is backed by $15.7 million in equity capital, raised via three funding rounds.

Volt says it is looking to offer banking products, including saving accounts, transaction accounts, term deposits and foreign exchange. 

It has already inked a deal with international payments system operator PayPal and says it is looking to move to a full deposit-taking licence later this year. 

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