Neo banks are live – but do they live up to the hype?

Neo banks are live – but do they live up to the hype?

Australia’s neo banking market is heating up with 86 400 officially opening its doors today, and neo-rival Xinja receiving its full banking licence from APRA yesterday.

These digital start-ups face an uphill battle to wrestle market share from the big four banks. But are they just marketing hype, or are they putting good deals on the table?

RateCity.com.au’s research team unpacks the latest craze in Australian banking:

Who are the neo banks?

Neo bank

Full banking licence?

Current products

Features

Future products

86 400

Granted 18 July 2019

Transaction account, Savings account

Max savings rate of 2.50% if you deposit $1K per month

Home loans

Xinja

Granted 9 September 2019

Early offering of transaction account

 

Deposit accounts and loans

Judo 

Granted 24 April 2019

Term deposits

2.00% for terms of 2 years and over.

 

Up

Using Bendigo and Adelaide Bank licence

Transaction account, Savings account

Max savings rate of 2.50% if you make 5 transactions.

 

Volt

Granted 22 January 2019

None

 

Deposit accounts and loans

Q&A with RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall 

What are neo banks?

Neo banks are digital banks, controlled from your mobile phone typically with a customer service platform within the app. Already at large in the UK, Europe and US, Australia now has three banks offering live products with more to follow. 

Most banks already offer a banking app. What’s the difference?

Neo banks say their advantage is that they have no cumbersome legacy technology, and as a result, they can offer faster, smarter, streamlined banking.

The neo banks also differentiate themselves in their marketing. They’re presenting themselves as the Uber of the banking world in the hope this will resonate with customers fed up with the incumbents.

Are they a threat to the big four banks? 

The big four banks have deep pockets and they don’t like losing market share. The big banks are already investing heavily in retail banking technology. If the neo banks start gaining traction, the big four are likely to respond in spades to make sure they appeal to tech savvy Australians. 

We’re in an age where people are taking to disrupters with huge enthusiasm in other industries. But Australians are notoriously loyal to their bank. More than three-quarters of our savings are with the big four and their subsidiaries. Neo-banks are unlikely to rock this boat any time soon. 

Are they competitive? 

Neo banks are going to have to be competitive on two fronts: technology and price. 

So far, 86 400 and Up are both offering a maximum savings rate of 2.50 per cent, which is the equal highest rate on our database, while Judo Bank is offering term deposits of up to 2.00 per cent which is one of the most competitive rates on the market. 

When it comes to transaction accounts, the neo banks will find it near-impossible to compete on cost. Up and 86 400 transaction accounts include some international fees and don’t waive all domestic ATM fees when a growing list of banks do. 

High interest savings accounts

Bank

Max savings rate

Conditions

My State

2.50%

Deposit of $20/mth and 5 transactions

BOQ

2.50%

Mthly deposit of $1k

Up

2.50%

5 card transactions /mth

86400

2.50%

Mthly deposit of $1k

Note: excludes kids accounts and introductory rates. 

How neo transaction accounts stack up with market leaders

Bank

Domestic ATM fees

Currency conversion fees

O/S ATM fee
(from your bank)

O/S ATM fee
(from the provider)

ING*

Refunded

None

None

Refunded

Macquarie Bank

Refunded

None

None

Set by ATM provider

ME Bank

Refunded

2.30%

$4

Set by ATM provider

Up

Set by ATM provider

None

$5.00

Set by ATM provider

86 400

Set by ATM provider

1.50%

None

Set by ATM provider

*ING account requires you to deposit $1K and make 5 purchases per mth for the free ATMs. Otherwise ATM and currency conversion fees apply. 

Will neo banks live up to the hype?

There’s no question neo banks will help drive innovation in the sector. Neo banks don’t have cumbersome banking systems that have been known to slow the bigger banks down. They also don’t have branches which will help them save on costs.

In order to be successful, neo banks will have to patiently chip away at the market. But the big banks won’t go quietly into the night.

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Learn more about bank accounts

How can I deposit cash into my bank account?

The traditional way to deposit cash into your bank account is to go to a branch and give it to a teller. These days, many banks will allow you to make deposits through an ATM as well.

How do you open a bank account in Australia?

Opening a bank account in Australia is usually a straightforward process. Some banks give you the option of opening an account online, while others require you to visit a branch.

Different bank accounts offer different features, so it’s best to compare your options to find one that suits you.

All banks require you to pass an identity check to open a bank account. Australia uses the 100-point identification system, which means you’ll need to show a number of forms of ID that, together, add up to 100 points.

Common ID types include a driver’s licence, passport, Australian visa in a foreign passport, and Australian Medicare card. You’ll find out what types of ID are accepted when you go through the sign-up process online or at a branch.

Once your account is open, you’ll be given or sent a debit card that you can use to make purchases and withdraw money from your account.

How do I close my bank account online?

You can usually easily open a bank account online, but you often can’t close it online.

Many banks and credit unions will only let you close an account if you go into a branch or call them on the phone.

However, some banks will let you request to close the account via your internet banking. Check your financial provider’s website for details.

Just remember: If you still have funds in the bank account, transfer them to another account, or withdraw the cash. Also, if you have any payments like direct debits going in or out of the bank account, these will also stop when you close your account.

Can you open another account at the same bank?

Yes, you can open another account at the same bank if you already have an account there, but some banks place a limit on how many specific accounts you can open.

Generally, though, it is possible to have more than one everyday account, one personal account and one joint account, or have different types of accounts – such as a transaction account and a savings account.

Keep in mind that some bank accounts come with fees, so you could be charged twice for having two types of the same account at the same bank.

Also, if you have more than one high-interest transaction account at the same bank, only one account will be able to earn the highest rate of interest.

Can you deposit money into somebody else's bank account?

One of the easiest banking tasks in the world is depositing money. You can even deposit money into someone else’s bank account if you wish.

The basic information you need to deposit money into a third-party bank account is:

  • Payee’s name
  • Bank, building society or credit union (though this isn’t necessary)
  • BSB (or bank code, which is the branch identifier)
  • Account number

Including the name of the financial institution isn’t necessary – particularly with online banking – because the BSB will identify this for you.

A handy tip is to record yourself (or add a personal message) in the transaction description or reference. This will show up on the recipients account, letting them know who’s paid them the money.

Can Centrelink access your bank account?

Yes, Centrelink can access your bank account, but only if you give them a reason to. Centrelink uses data-matching software with other federal government agencies to help it crack down on welfare cheats.

This is why it’s important to give true and matching information to all government agencies.

For example, if you report to Centrelink your annual income is $25,000, but at tax time you report your income as $50,000 with the ATO, it’s likely you’ll be ‘red flagged’.

At this point, Centrelink can legally request that your bank hand over your personal bank account details, to review your finances.

In most cases, Centrelink does not have the authority to take money out of your account. You will usually be given written notice to repay the debt.

However, Centrelink can also reduce your benefits until you’ve paid back what you owe. In extreme cases, Centrelink can garnish your wages and assets (including money in your bank account) until your debt is repaid.

How do I close a bank account?

Closing a bank account is one of those tasks that’s easy to put in the too-hard basket. There are quite a few steps involved, some which may require you to hang on the phone for a while.  

Here’s a handy checklist of items to tick off, so the job gets done quicker. If you don’t do your banking online, the following steps can also be done at a branch.   

  • Cancel any scheduled or recurring payments
  • Update your direct debit details (such as loan repayments) with creditors
  • Export your payee address book (to keep a record of saved third-party bank account details)
  • Transfer the balance of your account (to the new bank account)
  • Close your account online, or by calling the bank or visiting a branch

How do I open a bank account for a baby?

If you’ve just welcome a new baby into the world, congratulations. Opening a bank account for your child can be a wonderful first gift.

Before you can open your child an account, you’ll need to have a birth certificate or passport for your baby.

As the parent or guardian, you’ll also be listed as a joint holder on the account. This means you’ll need to have proof of your identification and address (a driver’s licence, passport, birth certificate or Medicare Card).

Many banks and credit unions offer baby banks accounts. Usually, you can apply online; otherwise you can head into a local branch or office with your documents.

How do I open a new bank account?

There are a number of ways to open a new bank account – online, over the phone or in the branch. The trick is to decide what type of bank account you want beforehand.

It might sound like a simple enough task, but there are literally hundreds of bank accounts to choose from. And each offer their own banking features and benefits.

A comparison site like RateCity can help you work out what bank account product matches your needs.

Once you’ve made up your mind what you want, it’s advisable to have the following information ready for the application process.

  • A couple of forms of identification (such as driver’s licence, Medicare card, passport)
  • Tax file number
  • Residential address, contact phone number and email (though email is not essential)

How do I open a bank account if I'm under 18?

The good news for savvy young folks like you wanting to take charge of your finances is that there are many bank accounts available for under-18s.

For bank accounts that require you to be 18 or older, you’ll have to rope in a parent or guardian to open the account for you.

Otherwise, you can apply by yourself online or at the branch of the bank, credit union or building society that has the account you would like to open. 

If applying online, you might be asked for a form of identification. For under-18s, this could be a Medicare card you’re listed on, your birth certificate and/or your current home address.

In most cases, you can verify your identity online (at the time of applying) or at the branch afterwards.

Do I need to open a business bank account?

Just because you’re in business doesn’t necessarily mean you need a business bank account. You could be a sole trader not registered for GST, and use your personal bank account for business.

If you do want a business account, there are plenty of benefits attached to business transaction and savings accounts, as well as business term deposits.

There are business bank accounts designed for businesses with a high volume of transactions, and those for start-ups with a small amount of trade. You could also include an EFTPOS service with your account.

Some business bank accounts charge for the number of transactions per month, while others offer a pay-as-you-go fee structure, where you only pay fees for transactions you make.

It’s up to you whether your priority is mainly transactions, or earning the maximum amount of interest on your principal. There’s a business banking solution for you if you need one.

How can I find bank accounts in my name?

To find ‘live’ bank accounts in your name, you’ll have to ask individual lenders, which involves contacting them one by one and proving your identity each time. To find ‘unclaimed’ bank accounts (those that have been inactive for at least seven years), you can use this website.

How do I open a bank account for a child?

There are few better ways for a child to learn about money management than through savings. And there’s a plethora of bank accounts designed specifically for young people and children.

A bank account for a child can be opened online, over the phone or in a branch in a few easy steps. The minimum age a child can open a bank account for themselves usually ranges between 12 and 14.

If the child is too young to open the account, you can do it for them as their legal parent or guardian. 

To do this, you would need to be over 18, have an Australian residential address and currently reside in Australia (or have proof of residency).

You would also need to provide:

  • Identification for yourself and the child
  • Your tax file number (TFN) or TFN exemption

Depending on the bank account, you might be able to choose what level of access the child has to their bank account (online and via the phone).

Do you need a bank account to get a credit card?

To get a credit card, you need to show proof of income, which will almost certainly require you to have a bank account.