Australia: Mutuals Lead Digital Innovation
I've just returned from Australia where I presented at TSWG's Annual Innovators Conference at the stunning Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast. Having the chance to present in Australia is always an enjoyable experience as I get the chance to reconnect with my Aussie roots, talk footy, avoid talking about cricket and engage with the latest developments in industry.
On this occasion TSWG put on a stellar event, showcasing a unique leap forward in the Australian financial services industry. The opening act by Nicholas Demos from RAMS blew me away. RAMS have not only made huge leaps forward in digital account opening, but I'd go as far in saying they are the benchmark for the Australian market. Nick's energy and enthusiasm was inspiring. Are we starting to see financial intuitions turn the digital corner?
Nick left no uncertainty, RAMS' recent shifts into online deposits and lifestyle lead banking is a direct attempt to catch and surpass the efforts of uBank, NAB's direct online offering. This is a bold ambition for a company that comes from a pure mortgages background. One of the best illustrations of just how different RAMS is prepared to be can be see in a recent video Raymond Rocks, featuring Australian rock legend Angry Anderson. Check it out.
Watching the presentations and networking amongst the delegates I discovered a trend that I never predicted. Australia's second tier financial institutions the mutuals and credit unions were leading the pack in the adaptation to a digital native consumer market. Which in hindsight makes sense. They are smaller, more agile and in many cases contain much leaner organisation & business structures.
Could this be a global trend? As smaller more nibble institutions are more ideally placed to adapt their businesses to the modern consumer.
Mutuals and Credit Unions have another key advantage, they aren't heavily invested in legacy distribution models that include complex silos, huge branch networks and layers of process control. By starting the digital evolution with smaller asset bases, mutuals could quickly adapt their business models, including economics, to stay two steps ahead of Australia's big four banks.
Overall, I am pleasantly encouraged by the progress being made in Australia and I look forward to my next visit. A huge thanks goes to Dan, Sciobhan and the team at TSWG for hosting me, and we cannot forget the amazing support of sponsors Cuscal and Veda.