Complete digital banking platform for Australia’s first smartbank

Who is the client?

86 400 was Australia’s first smartbank, built for smartphones.

Established in 2019 as a digital only neobank, it was majority owned by payments company Cuscal. In early 2021, after operating successfully for under two years, 86 400 was sold to NAB who adopted the “visual identity, technology, and innovation capability of 86 400”. The 86 400 brand was retired in May 2022, replaced by the new ubank brand.

What was their business challenge?

86 400 had a start-up mentality to disrupt the banking landscape.

As noted in this ComputerWorld article, the CEO, Robert Bell, sought to move the ‘smarts’ out of the core banking platform into a Customer Experience (CX) Engine.

The CIO, Brian Parker, needed to build the CX Engine so he could deliver an experience that was “purely aimed at the digital, mobile-only experience”. This digital experience needed to be “very, very different” from the older “Internet-banking experience”. It had to be far more personal and responsive, as well as handle new technologies such how a mobile app can use device binding as part of its authentication process.

And, of course, ease of use and simplicity remained essential.

What did we deliver?

Digizoo delivered an end-to-end digital banking platform and apps integrated with home lending and energy switching services.

As their strategic technology partner, we enabled 86 400 to bring their digital bank and products to market in record time, while simultaneously scaling up their own technology team.

Digizoo was initially engaged to assist with the business case, run technology POCs, and design an early prototype of the app. Once the business case was approved, we created the bank’s cloud-based architecture and provided a highly skilled team to accelerate the build of a new digital banking app and the innovative CX Engine.

Working together as one team, Digizoo and 86 400 built the CX Engine using a set of interlocking (and highly redundant) cloud services connected through APIs. This API-led approach isn’t always easy, as noted by ubank CIO, Brian Parker, in this ComputerWorld article:

“What that means for us as a technology shop is that we have to be really, really proficient in the use of APIs, and you know, I’ve never seen an API that is appropriately documented or tested or actually works the way it’s intended. So one of those core competencies is how to work with APIs and how to bring them together to deliver something quite different.”

Ultimately, the team delivered:

  • A modular, decoupled and purpose driven, micro-services platform. Balancing scalability, resilience, and maintenance to support 86400’s future roadmap
  • A hybrid-cloud and highly available API enabled mobile bank, built to connect with other Fintech’s and partners
  • Best-in-class identity access management, to eliminate sensitive credentials being stored in a ‘honey-pot’
  • A continually executable set of digital services, that ensures data never becomes stale
  • A set of closed-loop insight technologies to shorten the time between discovery and knowledge
  • A DevSecOps (‘Development Security Operations’) culture with ongoing, flexible collaboration between release engineers and security teams
  • Integration and development frameworks to create a flexible and adaptable resource model, that meets the needs of today’s regulatory focus.

What were the business outcomes?

Our work with 86 400 was completed over a 2-year period, with the end result being a successful launch to customers.

Development of the 86 400 app took a “lot of work,” says CEO Robert Bell, adding: “The app is not the bank; the bank is the digital Customer Experience Engine we built. That’s where we invested our money, because without that we can’t deliver a different experience through the app”. The CIO added that 86 400 was not wedded to any individual technology and can “chop and change” as required.

In a June 2020 interview with FST Media, the CIO also stated:

The way we have set up our technology and the team we have built gives us a competitive advantage. We have delivered seven products in seven months and we plan to maintain that speed, meaning we can execute and respond to customer needs at a faster pace than anyone else in the market.

Secondly, we have set ourselves up to operate at a fraction of the cost of other banks and have already proven we can scale quickly and maintain great customer service.

Ultimately, the 86 400 app and CX Engine that Digizoo helped build became the new ubank app in May 2022. At that time, ubank’s media release stated (emphasis added):

Representing the perfect pairing of an established customer base and name (UBank) with the visual identity, technology, and innovation capability of 86 400, ubank enables customers to see their money from over 100 financial institutions in one place – no matter where they have accounts.

Ubank CEO, Philippa Watson, said building a compelling digital-only option for customers was essential to helping them achieve real momentum with money.

“We know our customers regularly use a dozen or more apps per day, and they expect their banking experience to be as easy, helpful and enjoyable as every one of those apps. We also know our customers are thinking about their money more than ever,” said Ms Watson.

“We’ve listened and brought great features to the ubank app to help people be more successful with their money. We’ve got leading technology from Australia’s first smart bank paired perfectly with a brand that has been trusted by Australians for almost 15 years.

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