What’s ‘Up’? We chatted with a user of the fully digital bank and found out all about the new account
Up until last year, the term neobanks (or digital banks) may not have been something you were very familiar with, if at all. As the name suggests, it’s simply a bank that operates online through a computer or app on your phone.
Digital banks have been on the rise with a number of new online disrupters entering the banking world with exciting modern features. Which left traditional banks scrambling to adjust to the new era of banking. One of them was Australia’s fully digital bank ‘Up’ which launched on October 8, 2018. The fintech company is backed by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and offers everyday and savings accounts.
We wanted to find out more about Up Bank, so we searched around the Mozo office to see if anyone had used an Up account . It just so happened that our resident design guru, Anna, has an account and recently took her Up Bank card on her holiday to Hong Kong. So we asked her all about it.
Firstly, what is Up Bank to you?
Up Bank to me is like my parents watching my money over my shoulder. And because I literally do everything online these days, it’s just a really simple way for me to organise my money online.
Sounds cool. Now, I know we work in an office full of finance geeks, but how did you actually hear about Up Bank?
It was actually my boyfriend who first mentioned it to me, he wanted to back the company as a startup and said it suited what I was looking for in an account for travelling overseas. I looked into it a bit and mentioned it at work and found out one of our co-workers had already signed up. So he sent me a sign-up link and the rest is history.
What’s the sign-up process like?
It’s so easy. I downloaded the app and signed-up, linked my bank account and straight away could use the account, even without a card!
Even without a card? So you can access everything from the app then?
Yep, it works with my Apple wallet and watch so I can pay with either, but I still keep the card with me at all times as my main card. I’ll usually leave my other banking cards at home to stop me using them when I’m out. Oh, and even if I want to change my PIN, or deactivate my card, all I do is press one slide button on the app, so it’s all in one place.
Are you worried about security?
Nah, all the security information about the app and any personal information was really clear when I signed up.
So you mentioned using the app to keep an eye on your money. How does that work?
It’s so good because I’m trying my best to save and there’s a running statement of spends, big, bright logos of where you purchase things and lists of category and location, like - takeaway, events and gigs and transport. I was never a big budgeter before actually (and weirdly enough) I get a sense of satisfaction out of budgeting now.
Can you give me some examples of how you’ve budgeted using the app?
Yeah so, through the app I’ve created my own way of capping my money. I limit the money I transfer from my other account on my phone so it stops me from overspending. It’s so good for me when I’m on a night out. What I’ll do is make sure I only transfer $100 into my account, leave all my cards at home and only have my phone with the app on it, which forces me to be like “well I’ve got $11 left, do I really want to spend this on another drink or would I rather spend it on an Uber home?”
And because the app is so clear it makes it really easy to see where my money is going. An actual lifesaver in Hong Kong!
Oh, so you used the account in Hong Kong, how did it go?
The best way I can describe the Up account for travelling is like having a preloaded credit card. And because I could see the local and foreign currencies next to each other I could compare them. So I’d see conversion costs and decide whether I’d been grossly overcharged on the spot.
Most of the time when I bought things in Hong Kong, shopkeepers would ask if I wanted to pay in AUD or HKD after their EFTPOS machine would prompt them, which was cool because I didn’t lose money on the conversion rates by paying in HKD.
Okay, so I’m looking at the bright pink and orange card and I just don’t know how to feel about the colour. What do you think?
I actually love it! It’s super easy to find when rummaging through my purse!
Can’t argue with that. Anything else you really like about the account then?
I know this is not really unique to Up Bank, but my favourite part about it is the ‘round up’ feature.
I’ve heard about this kind of thing. Can you explain it a bit?
When you purchase something, it automatically rounds up the total cost to the nearest $1 and goes into a savings pile. It really does rack up over time and I don’t even notice it happening. Like this month I’ve already saved about $30. When you see how much it adds up it feels like a present to yourself! You can also set up different savings goals, like I’ve already got one set up for my next holiday.
Have you had to deal with customer service much? How does that go?
Another thing I think is just amazing is the ‘talk to us’ chat box. You don’t have to ring to speak to anyone, all you have to do is message them in the chat box, and you can upload screenshots of any issues and they’ll reply within office hours. Before I left for Hong Kong, I messaged them in the afternoon and got a response literally the next morning.
Sounds like you really love it. Have there been any hiccups or drawbacks so far?
I found that, like most other makes, there’s actually a short transfer delay of a few hours when I tried to transfer from my online banking with another bank to the Up Bank app. I won’t get into technical stuff, but basically, it’s because Up Bank is so app focused, that it lags a bit when transferring from online banking on a desktop, to the app. But you can use your bank's app to transfer instead and the money usually clears straight away.
The other thing is Up Bank doesn’t allow for Bpay, but I just set up direct debits instead.
Well, thanks for sharing your experience with Up Bank, Anna!
If you want to be at the forefront of innovative updates in the digital banking world, then head to Mozo’s fintech hub to find out more.