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New bank to launch in Australia to challenge the Big Four


Image: CEO of 86 400 Robert Bell with Chairman and UK banking veteran Anthony Thompson

The new digital bank is led by UK banking pioneer Anthony Thomson and funded by payments provider Cuscal.

Australia will soon see a real alternative to the dominant Big Four banks, with the upcoming launch of new digital bank 86 400 officially announced at an event in Sydney tonight. The new bank is named 86 400 to represent the number of seconds in a day; the idea being that the bank will be working to benefit the consumer every second, minute and hour of every day.

At the event tonight in Sydney, Chairman Anthony Thomson spoke of the issues within Australia's banking sector. "Banks have lost sight of the customer. They think they only exist to make money. I think there's an opportunity to create a bank that puts customers at the forefront of everything they do."

Anthony Thomson is well known for launching two highly-successful digital banks in the UK, Metro Bank and Atom Bank, one of which went on to becoming the most recommended bank in the UK. "It's not the first time that I've launched a bank, but it's certainly the one I'm most excited about."

In addition to Thomson, 86 400 boasts an impressive list of names among its senior staff, including former ANZ Japan CEO Robert Bell and Cuscal Payments CIO Brian Parker. The soon-to-be-launched new bank has more than 60 employees who have been secretly working on developing the bank for two years, without even their families knowing what they were launching. It's currently fully funded by leading payments provider Cuscal.

86 400 has been working with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) on securing a full banking license and plans to launch to the public in early 2019 with a transaction account and a savings account.

CEO Robert Bell said the new neobank will be run completely through an app, leveraging technology and using data to provide a seamless, always-on banking solution that seeks to better the lives of its customers.

"86 400 will have a beautiful, intuitive app, but that won’t be where it ends. We’ve invested a huge amount of energy into building a bank that is technology-led from the start. The crucial thing is the interplay between the core banking ledger and the technology. The technology has to work with the ledger, not for it. Only then will customers have a bank that’s working for them. That’s exactly what we’re building," said Bell.

We've seen a few digital banks pop up recently. Xinja just launched its prepaid card and app in May, and Volt bank was the first digital bank to receive a restricted license from APRA later in May. But these aren't the companies that 86 400 is competing with.

"We're not interested in building a small bank. We're building a real alternative to the Big Four," said Bell.

86 400 plans to launch to the public in early 2019 and will be available as both an iOS and Android app from launch.

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