Hi there and thanks to @Ka_Coffiney for kicking off this discussion, welcome to @nicky and @Allan and thank you to all of you for the comments that have followed. It’s taken me a while to respond because - as you can imagine - I was considering what to say. My initial reaction was to say ‘yes, sorry, you’re right, the features are very late and we’ll work harder to catch up - we understand how limited the bank account is’. Incidentally, we won’t be launching a marketing campaign promoting the bank account until more of the key features are there. But that’s not really the whole story. And doesn’t really answer the question ‘what’s the point of Xinja, and why bother continuing with a bank account that doesn’t have NPP/Bpay etc. yet?’.
From the launch of the bank account, we certainly started out with the intention to deliver the list of features we’d identified according to the timeframe on the roadmap. However we found that in order to fundraise, we were under pressure to deliver products that generated revenue. Not only that, but one of these products we realised could actually deliver far more value to our customers - in terms of helping them make more out of their money - than additional bank account features. With interest rates falling, and even generous interest rates on savings barely keeping pace with inflation, we had to make a call; do we carry on with the current list OR focus efforts on the new product that will be potentially of greater value to customers and would help us raise the funds we need to to keep developing Xinja?
We were still juggling when COVID hit and what this has done is delay the investment we had coming in. This has meant we couldn’t hire more developers - so in other words we couldn’t do both. So which to choose? Yes, the expectations of customers included the ‘basics’ like NPP and so we knew we’d be judged harshly or abandoned by some in the short term. However, it was about ensuring our survival AND delivering something innovative for a bank that would actually be more helpful to customers. Now, not all customers will want it, so it is a trade off, but it’s typical of the kinds of decision you have to make as a start up.
It was similar to making the decision over Stash. Do we drop the interest rate or stop opening accounts, and keep the rate as long as we can for existing customers? We decided on the latter. It was very ‘controversial’ and irritated everyone who wanted to open an account. However, we thought it was the right thing to do.
We have built a bank from scratch. For there to be new banks in Australia to bring in much needed competition, this is what has to happen. So that means getting a licence (which is - as it should be - a huge and also expensive task), building a core banking system (according to SAP doing this in 11 weeks is a world record), and a whole payments infrastructure (technology to send payment files between banks and partnerships that entails, a platform to connect a card scheme to enable payments - when the domestic scheme eftpos tried to do this most recently it took 22 months - we did it in 6) fraud monitoring, the pays (again, Mastercard said 12 weeks for this was a record) and of course the platform and the app.
So are we asking for more time on the ‘basic’ features? Yes we are. In a market where more and more people are having more than one bank account, do they all have to have the same set of features? Or can we introduce new products or options (like the no strings savings account or the product I mentioned above to be released in July) in a different order? In a post COVID world, businesses that deliver revenue and get to profitability sooner are those that will a) raise funds and b) survive. Those that want to make a difference to an industry - disrupt it and make it better and fairer for customers - need to do both.