New bank launched in Sydney

by Rebecca Pike28 Jun 2018

A new bank to compete with the big four and "put the customer first" was announced at an event in Sydney last night (June 27).

Entrepreneur Anthony Thomson, who founded two digital banks in the UK, led the event announcing his new venture in Australia.

Thomson is the founder and former chairman of the UK’s Metro Bank and Atom Bank. The former was the UK’s first new bank in 150 years and the latter was the UK’s first digital-only bank.

Now, after 18 months of "incognito" work, the new digital bank has been unveiled.

Named '86 400', because of the number of seconds in a day, the bank will strive to be a more available bank than others already on offer. 

The bank will be open to beta testing from friends and family later this year. Its founders hope to receive a full banking licence by the end of the year.

It should then be released to the public in the first quarter of 2019.

According to Thomson, the bank was created after he realised how much profit the Australian banks were making.

Despite his experience with banks in the UK, he said, "I think this is the best one I have been involved in".

The bank would initially allow for simple transaction and savings accounts, but the founders believe it would also be able to offer simple things that current banks do not – such as accessing particular sections of bank statements and being able to pay with your phone.

The group behind 86 400 has been working in secret, with no one knowing the details behind the project. Family members were none the wiser and even the team were unaware of the bank's name until a few weeks ago.

Thomson said, “The banks have lost sight of the customer and think they only exist to make money. And I believe the purpose of banks is to give the customer a better product and better experience.

"I have got nothing against profit, businesses need to be profitable. It is important, but I believe absolutely it should be a byproduct of doing something well for the customer.

"In looking at the banking market out here there was one statistic that stood out. It said that 2.9% of Australian GDP goes to the bank profits.

"What that said to me was $3 out of every $100 that Australians produce, be those individuals or businesses, go to the profit of the bank and I just don’t think that’s fair.

"I thought the banks in the UK ripped off consumers but the banks here are three times more profitable than the banks in the UK and I think that needs to change.

"Australians deserve better from their banks. I think there’s an opportunity to create a bank that puts customers at the centre of everything they do."

Rob Bell, 86 400's CEO, said at the event, "We have put together a large team, we have got over 60 people networking. This is a team that's all been working quietly, a lot of hours, a lot of work, incognito.

"We have hired the best possible people we can. This team is really relieved after this event to tell people what they're doing! In fact our families don't know what we're doing.

"It's an exciting time as you can imagine, we are very busy but really doing an amazing job.

"The difference with us is we're starting from scratch. We want to be able to deal in real time with customers every day. We want to be able to look at transactions in real time and help customers in real time.

"We want to create a genuine different bank and a genuine alternative to the big four banks and something we can be proud of."

Bell was former ANZ Japan CEO and formerly general manager at Cuscal Limited.

Cuscal is currently the key financial backer of 86 400, with chief information officer at Cuscal, Brian Parker, also joining the team.

Bell said, "We're a separate company, we’re a separate team, in a separate office but we are leveraging Cuscal's position."

The ambitious plan for 86 400 requires in excess of $250m of capital over the first three years of operation, with additional shareholders expected over that period.


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