Seven lenders unite to stir big bank complacency

A global professional services firm has joined with a group of Australia’s regional lenders to launch a fintech offensive against the country’s major banks.

KPMG in Australia has launched mLabs, a 12-week corporate accelerator connecting seven Australian mutual banks and credit unions with a group of 14 fresh-faced fintech startups, to agitate competition in the banking sector.  

Co-designed with the mutuals, KPMG mLabs seeks to develop innovative, cost-effective solutions to specific business challenges.

It is the brainchild of KPMG Australia, and follows the successful Energise accelerator run for the energy and natural resources sector last year.

The seven participating mutual banks and credit unions are Beyond Bank, CUA, Greater Bank, Heritage, IMB Bank, Police Bank, and Teachers Bank.

Ian Pollari, global co-lead for fintech at KPMG, said established organisations are increasingly coming to recognise the strategic importance of sourcing capability from the fintech start-up community.

Equally, the KPMG Mutuals Industry Review 2015 found mutuals to be ‘well placed’ to collaborate with fintechs and to implement new technologies. 

“KPMG mLabs is designed to catalyse this process,” said James Mabbott, head of KPMG Innovate. 

“It will be a platform for collaboration and a safe space for experimentation – and help bring some exciting new services to life for mutual banks and credit unions and their customers,” he added. 

Greater Bank CEO Scott Morgan said to remain relevant, regional lenders should have data-driven customer strategies, and be prepared to innovate continually.

The KPMG mLabs project, he said, will afford Greater Bank – and the other participants – a better understanding of the opportunities for fintech collaboration, adding that the general upside would be superior competition in the banking sector. 

“Greater Bank is already matching the big banks in many areas of digital banking but sometimes the big banks’ size and dominance is an issue,” Mr Morgan said.

“Processes such as KPMG mLabs help us to cost-effectively test and develop new ideas and give us scale to implement them,” he said. 

The program kicked off in Sydney last week.

It will culminate in a demo-day, with the fintechs pitching ideas to investors and finance sector leaders.

[Related: Fintech adoption tipped to double in 2016]

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Tim Neary

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