Mobile-only banks

Find out about the benefits of a bank that lives in your smartphone.

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Banks are evolving in Australia, offering customers a whole new range of digital features aiming to make money management simpler and more convenient. A new type of bank is launching with a view that banking can be done entirely on your phone. These new institutions are referred to as mobile-only banks.

This guide will explain mobile-only banks, their features as well as their pros and cons, so that you can decide whether they are right for you.

What is a mobile-only bank?

Mobile-only banks are a new type of bank that are designed to be accessed from an app on your smartphone. Unlike traditional banks, there are no bank branches and usually no option of Internet banking via a desktop. They are also called digital banks or neobanks. In Australia, these banks started launching in 2018 with many more due to launch in 2019. The majority will only offer a few products, such as a transaction account, a savings account and a debit card, but all come with innovative features designed to make banking easier.

Compare mobile-only banks in Australia

Updated December 12th, 2019
Name Product Product Status Pros Cons
Up Everyday Account
Available

  • Spending insights

  • Bill detection and reminders

  • Available on Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay, Garmin Pay


  • Card delivery time

  • International ATM fee

Exclusive offer: $5 bonus for new Up customers when you click through from Finder and create an Up account. A transaction account designed for your smartphone with spending categorisation and a round-up feature to help you save. No international transaction fees and no ATM fees in Australia.
Up Saver Account
Available

  • Unlimited multiple accounts

  • Free withdrawals

  • Bonus interest up to 1.75% p.a.

  • Bonus interest up to p.a.

  • Option of roundups


  • Bonus interest on balances up to $50,000 only

An innovative savings account that's tied to your goals. Create multiple accounts and automatically round up your spending from your Up transaction account.
86 400 Pay Account
Available

  • Quick and easy sign-up process

  • Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay

  • Insights into your spending and saving habits

  • In-app bill detection and reminders

  • No account keeping fees




  • International transaction fees apply

  • ATM fees apply (fees can be avoided at 10,000 ATMs in Australia)


Special offer: Get $10 cash back when you open a new 86 400 account and make a purchase before 15 December 2019 (T&Cs apply). An everyday transaction account that allows you to link your existing bank account/s in the 86 400 app and see all your transactions in the one place. Enjoy spending tools and bill reminders.
86 400 Save Account
Available

  • Bonus interest up to 1.85% p.a.

  • Can make withdrawals without losing interest

  • Insights saving habits, with a nudge each month you're not on track

  • No account keeping fees


  • If you don't earn the bonus interest, the standard interest is quite low

  • The $1000 per month deposit condition is higher than some other savings accounts

Link this Save account to your 86 400 Pay account and earn a competitive bonus interest rate each month you deposit $1000. You can withdraw from the account without affecting your bonus interest rate.
Xinja bank account
Available

  • Create an account in minutes

  • Security features

  • Spending analysis and categorisation tools in the Xinja app

  • Low-fee travel money solution


  • No bank branches

  • Cannot receive salary into the account yet

The Xinja bank account is an everyday transaction account with zero ATM fees, zero account fees and no currency conversion fees.
Revolut Account
Limited availability

  • Low-cost global spending

  • Buy, hold, trade and transfer multiple fiat currencies plus cryptocurrencies

  • Receive spending notifications and insights into your transactions

  • Insurance options


  • Low fee-free ATM limits

  • No free express delivery

  • No interest earned on savings

A convenient global spending account that lets you hold multiple currencies, spend and transfer money in over 150 currencies and benefit from innovative money management features.
Pelikin Prepaid Card
Pre-beta

  • Low-cost spending in Australia and overseas

  • Hold and split bills in up to seven currencies

  • Access live chat 24/7 and lock and unlock your card in the app

  • Spending tracking and insights


  • Product is not available yet

  • No savings account option

A convenient, low-fee account that hold sup to seven currencies and charges no account-keeping fees.
QPay Prepaid Card
Available

  • Bank-level security

  • Use your card at millions of locations, including online

  • Student benefits


  • Not a transaction account

  • No savings account option

  • Campus availability

A prepaid spending account designed for students. Benefit from low fees, spending insights and rewards tailored to how and where you spend.

Compare up to 4 providers

How do they differ from online banks?

While mobile-only banks and online banks seem similar, there are a few key differences that set them apart.

  • Access. Mobile-only banks are called as such because you can only access them through your smartphone or, sometimes, your tablet device. Other online banks such as ING and ME still offer Internet banking portals that you can access on your computer. They are "online banks" because they simply have no bank branches and you can access them online.
  • Technology. Some online banks are part of larger international finance groups (ING) or using the infrastructure of big banks (UBank and NAB). Mobile-only banks may still partner with larger banks, but are usually building their own bank from the ground up to be able to be nimble with their products and features.
  • Product offerings. Online banks such as ING, ME and UBank have been around for a lot longer than mobile-only banks and so have a more diverse product offering. For instance, ME offers bank accounts, home loans, credit cards and personal loans and ING has a similarly diverse offering. Mobile-only banks, for now, tend to only offer one or two products.

What are the features of mobile-only (digital) banks in Australia?

Features do differ between these new mobile-only banks, so it pays to compare, but you can expect to find any of the following:

  • Spending insights and budgeting tools. Features such as automated spending categorisation, the option to set spending limits and detailed insights into your spending history are available.
  • Travel benefits. Travel features include being able to hold multiple currencies in one account, no foreign transaction fees and no international ATM fees. Some also let you make international money transfers at the market exchange rate.
  • Bill detection and automation. Some banks can automatically detect when you're manually paying a bill each month or when you have a direct debit being taken out regularly. It will then either allow you to automate the process and get the app to pay the bill for you or send you a reminder to make sure you have sufficient funds in your account for the direct debit.
  • Easy payment splitting between friends. This is a common feature of mobile-only banks. You can send money to your contacts or request a payment. You can also split a bill between friends if you need to.
  • Security. There are many innovative security features on offer including the ability to lock and unlock your card instantly if it's lost or stolen, 24/7 live chat assistance and location-based security, which means your card can't be used if you aren't near it.

Are mobile-only banks safe?

It's good sense, especially in the case of banks, to make sure that any new financial players in the market are going to keep your money safe. Here is what you need to know about mobile-only banks:

  • Licensing: The reason these new banks are now popping up is that the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) has recently announced a new framework for banking entrants to be granted a restricted licence. So far, one bank (Volt Bank) has been granted this restricted Authorised Deposit-Taking Institution Licence. Other mobile-only banks are waiting for their licences to be granted or partnering with institutions that are already licenced in order to start offering products.
  • Security features: Many mobile-only banks offer innovative security features. These include the ability to lock and unlock your card if it's stolen or lost.
  • Contactable: Most mobile-only banks offer 24/7 live chat help within the app should you need assistance, and are easily contactable if you need help.
  • Experience: While these banks are new, many of these companies have experienced banking professionals on their founding team. If you are uncertain about banking with a new bank, find the "About us" or "Our team" page on the bank's website to see what kind of experience it has.

Pros and cons of mobile-only banks: Decide if they are right for you

Pros

  • Easily accessible. All of your banking products and services are accessible from your smartphone whenever you need them.
  • Product design. These new digital banks leverage new technology to be able to respond to their customers' needs quickly. They usually have beta tests for products before they go live, so you can give your feedback as the product is being created.
  • Competitive pricing. Similar to online banks, mobile-only banks have no physical branches and fewer overheads This allows them to keep products competitive.

Cons

  • No Internet banking website. If you're one of the 47.1% of Australians that uses Internet banking*, then you may find mobile-only banks restricting. You will only have your smartphone or, in some cases, your tablet device, to complete all of your banking needs.
  • Small range of products. Mobile-only banks are only just starting to launch their products, which means there isn't a wide suite available. If you're looking to do all of your banking with one institution, then a mobile-only bank may not be for you.
  • Product limitations. Some mobile-only banks have restrictive ATM withdrawal limits or, in the case of prepaid card offerings, restrictive load limits. Check what limits and restrictions apply before you take out an account to make sure the account is right for you.

How to sign up for a mobile-only bank

The sign-up process for mobile-only banks differs depending on the individual bank, but most offer quite a fast and simple process. You will need one or two forms of identification, usually your driver's licence, Medicare card or passport, as well as your personal details such as your full name and address.

Before you sign up, check that the mobile-only bank is compatible with the device you have (iOS or Android). You can find out more about the sign-up process on Finder's digital bank review pages.


*Source: Roy Morgan. Data found that in the 6 months to October 2018, 47.1% of Australian bank customers used a website for Internet banking. Data based on a survey of over 50,000 Australians.

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