Australian banks outgun fintech startups with Beem It

Despite getting a hammering in the docks at the Royal Commission, this week the major Australian banks quietly landed a homerun in the fintech space.

Beem It, an instant payments app similar to Venmo, officially launched this week, allowing anyone with an Australian Visa or MasterCard debit card to instantly transfer money without touching internet banking, or knowing a recipient’s BSB or Account Number.

As Venmo using US counterparts have probably realised, apps like Beemit make internet banking feel as relevant as, well, phone banking. It truly will soon be something you use as an absolute last resort.

As far as user experience goes, it seems this time the banks have outgunned their fintech counterparts. The app interface is fresh, there is zero reference to the banks or their branding – other than where it matters, in the FAQs – and there is even a member get member program.

Locally, the instant payments market has been a slow burn. Finch is the only serious player of note. However unlike Finch and overseas models like Venmo, users (like me) aren’t required to pre-fund an account for transfers. This is a game changer, and much closer to the type of use-as-you-go model consumers are looking for.

According to finder.com.au, the app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times since it soft-launched in early May.

If this is the new calibre of products coming out of the banks in Australia, the bar has just been raised. It also begs the question – what, if anything major, is left to improve upon in the consumer instant payments market, and should fintechs even bother?

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.

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