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‘A smarter alternative to the big four banks’

By Eliot Hastie
1 minute read

Newly licenced neobank 86 400 has bold ambitions to take on the big four banks but it's an ambition it says is entirely appropriate.

APRA recently granted 86 400 a full ADI licence after the bank skipped the "neobank" route of getting a restricted ADI first. 

With the full licence 86 400 can now release their suite of products to the market with the first iteration being a stepping stone to eventually take on the majors. 

Chief executive of 86 400 Robert Bell told Investor Daily that 86 400 had always focused on building their bank and that they weren’t interested in being a niche player. 


“We want to create a smarter alternative to the big four banks. It’s a big ambition but it’s entirely appropriate to have but we've got to start somewhere,” he said.

The ambition was partially why the bank just got on with getting the full licence said Mr Bell rather than spending time on getting the restricted licence.

“There was no advantage in us spending time and effort on the restricted licence when we had the time and technology and the skills to go straight for a full licence,” he said. 

Mr Bell said the regulators had tested the business and gone through it with a fine-tooth comb so now the bank had all the same securities and protections as the majors. 

“This has been an incredibly thorough process and we’ve had every element of our business stress tested to confirm that we are as robust, secure and safe as any bricks-and-mortar bank,” he said. 

Their product going to market had already been tested by the 86 400 staff said Mr Bell which is a fact many in the industry did not know. 

“We've been quite in the background, using and testing our product. Our strategy has been around: we want people to talk about us when they can experience us,” he said. 

Chairman Anthony Thomson said the bank was focused on providing customers a bank it could trust to put them first. 

“Our job is to prove to customers that we put them first and there are ways in which we do that, fairness and transparency being the obvious ones. 

“So we have no hidden charges, we're very open with people. If you have a savings account and you need to put a certain amount in to qualify for your bonus and if you haven’t put that in we will tell you,” he said. 

Mr Thomson said the research on Australians showed that most consumers did not feel in control of their finances, so the bank wanted to fix that by putting all consumer data in one place. 

“Through our app you can not only look at your 86 400 account but you can look at all of your other banking accounts in the one place through our app so you can see what transactions have happened and we can through using AI and data analytics start to predict what kind of bills are going to be up and coming for you,” Mr Thomson said.

What set 86 400 apart was that it had been created to be a mobile bank unlike the bricks-and-mortar banks that had to adapt over time said Mr Thomson. 

“We talk about this being the first smart bank because what we have tried to do is build a smart bank for the smart phone the smart cars the smart lives that people lead today,” he said. 

The bank will initially launch with transaction account with a visa debit card with the option to pay through all digital wallets like Apple and Google Pay. 

There will also be a savings account and ATM access and eventually the bank will offer mortgages to consumers as well. 

“When you think about what the average Australian needs, a transaction account a savings account and a home loan and you've covered 80 per cent of what most consumers need and that’s why we have started there,” said Mr Bell.

In a move that will be welcomed by mortgage brokers Mr Bell said they were entering the mortgage industry through the brokers because they were important to the marketplace. 

“We have a relationship with two aggregators, and we will be working through mortgage brokers in the first instance. Mortgage brokers are still important in the marketplace and that is why we are entering the market through them,” he said.  

The bank will be live on app stores within weeks and those on its waitlist will be invited to sign up first.

‘A smarter alternative to the big four banks’

Newly licenced neobank 86 400 has bold ambitions to take on the big four banks but it's an ambition it says is entirely appropriate.

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