Australia's Volt Bank has become the first of a rash of putative digital challengers to win a fully-fledged banking licence, paving the way for a full-scale commercial launch later this year.
Co-founded by former NAB and Barclays exec Steve Weston, Volt has 100 staff and it has raised $45 million in equity. The online-and smartphone-only bank is aiming to break even in three years, offering a range of retail banking products and smart savings and account aggregation tools. The firm also intends to compete with Australia's biggest banks in the SME and business banking sector, entering the market sometime in 2020.
Steve Watson, who used to run Barclays' mortgage operations, says: "Against the backdrop of systematic failures and breaches of trust by incumbent banks, our mission is simple; to empower people and make financial services easier. It’s about giving Australians a fundamentally different banking experience, one that is honest and fair.”
Volt is one a clutch of digital banking startups seeking to break the hegemony of Australia's Big Four banks.
86 400, set up by UK neobank veteran Anthony Thomson, former ANZ Japan CEO Robert Bell and one-time Cuscal CIO Brian Parker, is also expecting approval for an unrestricted banking licence later this year.
"86 400’s full licence application is progressing as expected and we look forward to making our own announcement in early 2019," says Parker. "While currently fully funded by Cuscal, Australia’s leading independent payments company, we are opening our doors to new investors in 2019, those that want to play a crucial role in delivering a new era of Australian banking. It’s an exciting time not just for us, but more importantly for Australians that have long deserved better products and services than those the Big Four banks have offered them.”
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