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Australian banking is changing, increasing competition and dismantling old oligopolies is in vogue. The Hayne inquiry, Consumer Data Right and APRA’s relaxation of ADI requirements are all moving Australian Banking towards a more competitive environment.

At The Singularity Mesh, we enable organisations large and small to operate within these newly emerging spaces.

So, recently we asked ourselves a simple question:

“How easily can I sign up to a bank on a mobile app?”

The research to answer that question has been surprising and insightful and we hope will help create a catalyst to improve the customer experience across all banks, big or small.

In our research, we also came across a great post from the UK with a similar aim and a complimentary view – We have taken some ideas from both to complement our initial thoughts on how the research would be structured.

What did we do?

  1. We tested 3 x Neobanks, 4 x Big banks, 4 x Tier 2  and Credit Unions
  2. We asked: how long does it take  and how many clicks are needed?
  3. Compared and contrasted the experience
  4. Published the results 


    • NeoBanks have a super slick sign up experience 
    • Some experiences made us smile; others made us cry
    • The Big Four provide sub-optimal experiences


We followed a simple methodology, consisting of the following steps:

Step 1: Define the comparison criteria

Step 2: Identify the bank categories and the test banks to compare

Step 3: Run the tests

Step 4: Wait for the account to be opened

What were our criteria?

We decided to look at the following:

  1. Time to open the account using just the app, with access to online banking. We consider an account open when we are able to deposit money in an account and spend (via Apple Pay / Physical Card).*
  2. The number of fields entered and clicks required to open the account.**

Which banks did we include?

Wikipedia tells us that Australia has 47 Banks and Building Societies, 81 Credit unions, 14 Friendly Societies, 8 Foreign-Owned Subsidiary Banks and 37 branches of foreign banks.

We decided to get a subset of banks under the following four categories.

Neobanks, Big 4s , Tier 2 and Credit Unions.

Cohort 1: Neobanks

So first up were the NeoBanks. As the name suggests, new to the Australian marketplace, and positioned as mobile-only pure-play banks. Clearly targeted at the 18-35 mobile obsessed age range. Our expectations were high. How quickly could we really sign up and get access to a payment card? A few days? A few minutes?

The data that emerged indicates that these providers are mobile experience mavens. Check out below how few clicks and fields were needed.

The winner was 86400, with just 28 interactions; and in 126 seconds we were able to open an account. All 86400, Up, and Xinja allowed us to add a card to the wallet which really helped support the feeling that you had completed your mission to open an account.


Volt Bank was a notable exception for the Neobanks. While one of the first Neobanks to get their banking license the business has selected to open the app as a beta program. We will come back and test the onboarding flow when it’s available to the general public. However, from what we saw, the app had a really positive feel to it and we look forward to circling back to include it in our research.


The Neo Banks had a great account opening and onboarding experience.

Up Bank, Xinja, and 86400 all allowed us to open an account in less than 5 minutes – which is amazing when you think about it; and link it to Apple Pay – cards ready to be used!

We also received  the Physical Cards in less than 5 business days in COVID Times which is excellent

How did they achieve this? By:

    • Allowing customers to open an account directly through the app.
    • Speeding up the process of when the account was ‘open’, i.e. by generating an Apple Pay Card
    • Removing the worst part of the traditional experience and making it digital native
    •  Minimizing the data collection; leading to great KYC onboarding experiences.
    • BONUS: Creating a memorable experience when the card arrived.


  • Could be a bit variable here. Although we tried our best, we might be more familiar with one app than another, which could affect the times.
  • However, we took the following measures to ensure this was as close to a controlled experiment as we could reasonably get:
    1. We practiced and knew the ‘correct route’ in advance. We had the bank details in front of me, and had gone through the process a few times to make sure we were familiar with the steps
    2. If we made any error or felt like we lost time, we tried again. For example, if we incorrectly typed a digit we’d start again
    3. Everything needed was in front of the tester. For example, if we needed a card reader, we’d have it turned on and ready

*Number of clicks and Fields

We felt that the aggregated number of Clicks and Fields to be completed gives a good picture on the initial premise of “How easily can I sign up to a bank on a mobile app?”   – definitely better than clicks alone.  Adding the third criteria – Timing gives you a more rounded impression of the overall experience.

Final Thoughts

There appears to be a correlation between the speed of sign up and the relationship the Neobank has with older and larger institutions.

We will be investigating that in the next phase of research…Watch this space.

Click here to view Part II – Opening Banking Accounts in Australia – Big 4