Xinja drops ninja mode to reveal new mobile-only bank
Australia-based Xinja has emerged from the shadows to unveil its plans for a mobile-only digital bank.
Xinja has raised in excess of AU$2 million ($1.5 million) in its first-round funding to launch a pre-paid debit card as a precursor to establishing Australia’s first fully digital, independent “neobank” built for mobile. The bank will have no bricks and mortar branches.
Eric Wilson, Xinja’s chief executive and a former National Australia Bank (NAB) executive. says: “We are designing a bank in partnership with our customers; it will be built around their needs and with their input.” (This is a common quote from founders of start-up banks.)
Xinja might be new, but it will have some handy experience on tap. Jason Bates, a co-founder of UK digital challenger bank Monzo, has joined the Xinja board.
The bank’s capital raising was completed just after the release on 9 May of Australia’s Federal budget, which included measures to make it easier for start-ups to enter the market.
Xinja has had initial discussions with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on licensing. It expects to pursue an application for a restricted banking licence shortly.
The bank will begin by issuing 5,000 customers a pre-paid debit card (for which a banking licence is not required) around the end of 2017. At that time, customers can trial a limited release of these cards, and feedback will be used for a full product release in 2018.
On its website, Xinja says it plans to launch deposit accounts six months after that, and mortgages and credit cards another six months later.
It won’t charge account fees, and offers “everyone” access to a free version of its services. However, it intends to make money via additional premium features which can be switched “on or off” when customers need them.
Xinja will offer payments in real-time and the option to ring fence funds if customers are saving for specific purposes without having to open a separate account; and start saving with a single swipe.
Looking ahead to crowdfunding, Xinja says the laws are scheduled to change in Australia in September 2017 to allow this. The next time it plans to raise capital will “probably” be in February 2018.
Xinja is in fact the trading name for Get Kite Pty Ltd, a privately owned company. It says no banks have loaned funds or invested funds in Xinja.