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FinTech Australia has applauded the number of personal finance apps that have launched this year to challenge the dominance of the big banks, even before the government brings in an “open data” regime.
FinTech Australia chief executive Danielle Szetho said that mobile software from traditional financial organisations often didn’t have particularly high ratings in the Apple or Android app stores – and this was a massive opportunity for startups.
“Australian banks and super funds have had it too good for too long in the personal finance app market. Now Australian consumers are starting to get some real choice and improved services,” said Szetho.
“This is particularly important given Australians are living longer, and need to become more aware of how to best manage their savings for long term financial health.”
Analyst firm App Annie’s “Finance Apps in the Asia Pacific” report in July showed that in Australia, compared to Asian countries, all-in-one apps from big banks still dominated downloads. The CommBank app was the most popular fintech app by far, with four times the users compared to the next best, PayPal.
In contrast, China, Japan and South Korean users were already splitting up their banking into separate third party apps to get the best functionality.
The research also found the five most popular retail banking apps in Australia only managed an average of 2.9 stars (out of 5) in the Apple App Store in the first half of this year, indicating an opportunity for startups to fill specific personal finance needs.
The federal government is currently conducting a review into how it can force old banks to open up customer data to fintechs, to make it easier for consumers to take up alternative service providers.
Treasurer Scott Morrison had previously indicated he would like to see such a regime begin next year.
Here are some of the Australian consumer fintech apps that are making inroads even before open data has come along:
This personal budgeting tool was born as a spreadsheet created in a Sydney living room. It now has more than 300,000 users and is rated 4.5 on the Apple App Store and 4.4 on the Google Play Store.
Finch in July launched an app that allows Australians to make payments without BSB numbers in “less than five seconds”, as well as manage group tabs, shared expenses and split bills. The software also provides recommendations to improve the user’s spending and saving habits.
This startup, which launched its app last month, allows users to deposit their spare change into their superannuation. Typically this “lazy cash”, as the company calls it, is harvested from rounding up card transactions on everyday purchases.
This micro-investment app, licenced out of the US but run separately in Australia, rounds up everyday credit and debit card transactions to invest the spare change into the share market. Earlier this year the service made headlines for signing up 200,000 Australians in just 12 months.
Alt is launching this month as a collaboration between a startup and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank. The app provides spending analysis and predictive capabilities to help consumers control their purchases and savings. Further details will be revealed at the Intersekt festival next month.
The expense tracking and budgeting app last month added a “bill watch” service that sends out alerts on changes to their normal utility charge – to prompt the user to find a better gas or electricity deal.
The Perth startup, which launched its app in September, analyses the user’s financial overall wealth. The platform already tracks $500 million in customer funds.
Sydney’s Easyshare launched its app in August, which solves a longtime dilemma in sharehouses – how to split and collect rent and bills. The software does the legwork in splitting and collection on behalf of the household.
Finch’s Shahirah Gardner, Hip Money’s Mark Zmarzly, CarrotsMoney’s Jacqueline Park and Acorn’s Brendan Malone will be discussing consumer wealth and investment at the Collab/Collide Summit, held as part of the Intersekt fintech festival on 3 November 2017 in Melbourne. Book your tickets at intersektfestival.com.
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