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Australia's best digital bank 2017: Westpac


When Brian Hartzer took over from Gail Kelly at Westpac in 2015, he signalled a big push into digital to help get costs down, flagging a near A$1 billion ($760 million) investment in new efficiency technologies. Almost three years on, Westpac’s digital strategy looks a lot like a prudent insurance policy, an attempt to future-proof itself against technology disruption.

The bank has been a big financial backer of the ground-breaking Sydney fintech hub Stone and Chalk, the largest fintech hub in the Asia-Pacific region, where there are more than 60 startups under construction. Westpac’s in-house fintech funder Reinventure is also a big investor in peer-to-peer lender SocietyOne, where former Westpac luminary – and the bank’s would-be chief executive at one time – Jason Yetton is the boss.

Westpac put A$40 million into payments platform ZipMoney, the main competitor to the runaway startup Afterpay. And it has staked digital home loans startup Uno, which aims to transform the very heart of Westpac’s A$8 billion profit made largely from mortgages, its pot of gold.

The bank’s Digital Connect platform also saw the launch this year of its first corporate lending portal, now accessible to 1,500 of the bank’s largest customers, who account for A$40 billion in lending.