Saturday, 25 May 2024

"UBank was introduced to clearly disrupt Australia's banking industry"

5 min read

By Carmina Angelica Olano

Jeremy Hubbard, head of digital and technology at UBank, believes that by championing a new perspective to savings, backed by a focused approach in personalisation and improved customer experience, UBank is on its way to becoming the most referred brand.

  • UBank was built to disrupt the highly competitive banking sector in Australia
  • Hubbard said that the implementation of technology in personalisation and improving customer service is an advantage of being a digital-only bank
  • He also believes true straight-through processing allows the bank operate at a lower cost and pass savings onto its customers via competitive rates

The retail banking sector in Australia is highly competitive with the four major banks dominating 80% in terms of assets, deposits and loans. The market has also been ripe for digital banking services with the rise of financial technology (fintech) companies. Nevertheless, amidst this competition, UBank, a digital-only bank operating as an independent division of National Australia Bank, has emerged as a challenger because of its marketing and
digital strategies, then and now.

Back in 2010, when the pressures of the global financial crisis (GFC) have brought Australian consumers to seek financial security with the big four banks, while most are also sceptical of relatively unpopular online banking services, UBank has managed to emerge among the top deposit-taking institutions in the country. Only two-years old then and has yet to make a name in the industry, UBank has devised a brand strategy to attract customers, regain consumers’ trust in online banking, and place itself on the map. By using “saving is the new spending” to advertise its deposit account, UBank was able to leverage on Australian consumers’ guilt and changing perspective on savings brought by the GFC.

Now, UBank has continued its efforts to build its brand to compete and disrupt the highly competitive banking sector in Australia, as a digital-only bank.

“UBank was introduced with a clear mandate – to disrupt the banking industry. And, now we have our sights set on the vision of becoming Australia’s most referred brand,” Hubbard told The Asian Banker in an email interview.

Upon launching Australia’s first online-only home loan in 2011, UBank has backed this product with another consumer culture-changing campaign, “borrow less live more.”

“It was a provocative point of view for us to take, encouraging people to borrow less and live more, but we’re proud of the conversation we’ve started. And, we hope to continue to inspire our customers and all Australians to re-define their own Australian dream.” That is, he said, a life spent with your loved ones rather than time spent on earning to pay for larger mortgage repayments. Consumers should do away with buying the property they want, but focus on which fits their needs, he said.

Similarly, last year, the bank had rolled out a powerful video that highlights home ownership tips from terminally ill people. In UBank’s perspective, this video redefined Australians’ culture on real estate spending.

To promote its brand, Hubbard emphasised the importance of building relationship with its customers by personalising its services and improving customer experience. With this, he mentioned that the adoption of the latest technology has allowed the bank to do so. “Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence coupled with application platform as a service (aPaaS) is proving to be a gamechanger…”

With the help of cognitive computing, UBank is enabled to “deliver true personalisation for each customer and really make an impact”.

Overall, Hubbard mentioned that the implementation of technology in personalisation and improving customer service is an advantage of being a digital-only bank.

“The biggest opportunity is really around having a very specific customer in mind and being able to focus on how we can continually improve our service for this customer”, he said. Specifically for consumers that are “digitally-savvy and comfortable taking a proactive role in the management of their finances,” UBank is able to focus on their specific needs and provide services accordingly.” For example, UBank’s UrHome property application is designed to assist Australians on finding the property they need with use of their mobile phones.

Similarly, in terms of customer experience, “achieving true straight-through processing (STP) is also more feasible through a   bank, allowing us to operate at a lower cost and pass savings onto our customers via our competitive rates.”

Given the highly competitive and regulated home loans market in the country, UBank “stands out as one of the only truly online banks in Australia, with the competitive rates and consistently great customer experience we strive to offer,” he added.

As a digital-only bank, UBank is able to incorporate the latest technological advancements that enables the bank to personalise its services for each customer, as well as improve customer experience through effective STP. This, along with its relevant culture-changing campaigns as marketing, UBank builds its brand that solves its customers’ problems and delivers better experience since it was established.

Keywords: UBank, Fintech, NAB, STP
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