As 2018 rolled to a close, news hit the wire that the second neobank in Australia, Xinja had been awarded a restricted banking licence from the local regulator. Earlier in 2018 Volt had claimed line honours for restricted licence number one.
Both banks are two of the more high profile players in what is swiftly becoming a crowded space. Banking Tech’s ‘who’s who’ of Australian neobanking counts a total of 11 in the space, including Volt and Xinja. Heavy going for a country of only 24.6 million people.
Most banks, Xinja and Volt included, are going after mortgages as part of their go to market strategy. To date only Tyro and Judo are attacking the SME space. And while mortgages is certainly fertile ground, as banks tighten up on lending, neobanks aren’t the only ones to notice this and want in on the action.
This week a report in the Australian Financial Review suggested Australia’s non-bank home lending sector was making very good housing hay under a scorching Australian sun. Thanks to bank pull back and a heady appetite for risk, the shadow lending sector is said to be ‘growing market share among owner-occupiers at four times the rate of their mainstream banking rivals.’ This will be further competition and pressure on the nations fledgling neobanks, as they come to market in 2019.
But they are forging ahead nonetheless, Volt especially. In a blink and you’ll miss it press release that hit newsrooms just before Xmas, Volt reported it had switched on its Temenos core banking platform. There is no question this caps off a rather successful 2018 for the Volt team.
What will 2019 bring Australia’s challenger banks? Most likely acquisition headwinds, as the rubber hits the road post the relatively easy gets – licensing and tech. While both are by no means a feat to be diminished, it figures that in today’s friendly licensing market, a solid and experienced product and compliance team would be hard pressed to fail on both of these fronts. What Volt has proven (and executed on) is that the edge here is indeed your speed.
Can customers be lured away from Australia’s tech savvy major banks, or the increasingly flexible and price competitive shadow lenders? If mortgages are your game, that is going to be the billion dollar question for Australia’s neobanks.
Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.