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Banking

Australia demonstrates the stages of neobank evolution

Australia is an interesting market for those wondering how neobank models might evolve, as it has already experienced success, failure, and sale to the incumbents.

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In the brief history of neobanks, Australia has already managed to conjure up a range of different stories and outcomes. There is a neobank that has given up and handed back its licence, neobanks that are successfully going it alone, and a neobank that has capitalized on early success by selling itself to an incumbent.

There are things to learn from all three experiences.

Most of Australia’s neobanks have their roots in the big four banks. Judo Bank, for example, was founded by David Hornery and Joseph Healy, both of them ex-NAB and ANZ. ANZ was also where Robert Bell made his name before founding 86 400; NAB is the former home of Steve Weston, who founded Volt, and Eric Wilson, who launched Xinja. Macquarie also peppers founder CVs.

They took different approaches and identified different niches, but with some common ground: a sense that there were things that could be done better in a market where the big four banks were so big and powerful they were leaving gaps in the market in their wake.


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