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Welcome back to the third and final installment of bank onboarding: the digital edition, where we put banks of all shapes and sizes to the test to determine:

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

First, we brought you the Neobanks, then the more established heavy hitters aka The Big 4. Now, the closing chapter will tell the tale of Tier 2, Digital Banks and Credit Unions. 

The six contenders in this round who’s apps (and websites as needed) were tested, were: Suncorp, Macquarie, ING, Revolut, Credit Union SA and Credit Union Australia (CUA).

Suncorp and Macquarie are large, iconic Australian Banks so were a shoo-in but we added ING into the mix as they’ve been down under for some time and disrupted the market by offering a digital-savvy product a few years back. Revolut, late to the party but oh so fashionable, now offer Australian current accounts and are out of Beta! And finally, to round out the bracket, a couple of the top 5 largest Credit Unions, namely Credit SA and CUA. Let’s see how seamlessly these member-first, mutually owned mobs onboard new customers.


Cohort 3: Tier 2s, Digital Banks, Credit Unions

Macquarie Bank took out the click-test by a hair’s breadth but the big surprise here was ING Bank.

Some of us remember ING as one of the first banks in Australia to offer a banking mobile app. At that time, they were streaks ahead of any of the other institutions. As such, it was interesting to find them a little behind on the clicks/fields metric.

Worthy of a mention here is the range of options available on Credit Union SA’s platform. With the ability to open a single account, joint account and even an account for you and a dependent, something we’ve not seen before but likely a fairly common user need.

Revolut nosed ahead of the pack here, though both Suncorp and Credit Union SA were certainly in tow.

Unsurprisingly, Revolut was the fastest in terms of time to spend.

Both Macquarie Bank and Suncorp Bank provided a bank account to transfer money into before spending and the physical cards arrived in about 5 days.

Likewise, the Credit Union cards arrived some 7 days later but the accounts were up and functioning with funds send/receive and NPP functionality available immediately.

Until the cards arrived, there was no option to link and use Apple Pay.

Aggregated Results

NB: Our Xinja account was exceptionally short-lived since they renounced their banking license at the close of 2020 to focus efforts on the trading platform arm of the business. While their score is no longer applicable, we kept it in the mix for posterity.

The aggregated graphs with all 10 financial institutions in the research look like this:

Opening accounts with Neos, Tier 2 Banks and Credit Unions was certainly easier on the fingers as they had the least number of clicks and fields to fill in.

The Big 4 were way behind in this respect, although, as mentioned in the comments section of one of our previous articles, they provide a very compelling customer experience once the account has been opened.

Time to spend followed a similar pattern in which the Neobanks led the charge. Of the Big 4, CBA and Westpac paced themselves posting a respectable time, while NAB and ANZ were caught napping.

The Neobanks were the clear overall winners to no one’s surprise, given they are the disruptors in this space. However, it will be a space to watch closely given the recent fold of Xinja’s banking operations.

The others that required a physical card all took roughly the same amount of time to equip us with transactional capacity.

Highlights and Lowlights – All things considered

    • It is possible to offer a slick and quick account opening experience as the Neobanks show
    • Time to spend can be lightning-quick, just minutes from account creation!
    • The linking of physical to digital cards is redundant (even though the physical cards only took about a week to arrive)
    • Especially for the older banks, dependence on existing infrastructure and processes have led to a disjointed experience across platforms
    • The KYC onboarding experience can be done in a step-up manner, in order to provide a good UX
    • Accommodating different user personas is very forward-thinking, including things like joint/linked/dependent account creation (see Credit SA)


When we started this experiment, we didn’t really know what to expect. With all that said and done, we were both delighted and shocked by some of the onboarding experiences delivered.

With growing adoption and reliance on these omnipresent devices, one would think the Australian banks might’ve placed more emphasis on the sign-up flow but alas, all evidence points to the contrary.

Given the perceived challenge of ‘switching banks’, some of the more established financial institutions have likely rested on their digital laurels.

However, with the demonstrated agility of the new wave of banks catering to the smartphone-savvy generations eager to tap-and-go that next smashed avo sourdough, the Tier 1s might be well advised to watch their backs or up-their game.