February financial wrap up

Another Aussie summer comes to a close with an outrageous amount of consumer news crammed into just 28 days over the last month.

Fintech news may have dominated February’s headlines, but there was also a lot for homeowners to digest and some quirky travel stories that caught us by surprise.

Sayonara summer, it was fun.

Fintech Feb

You might have heard the phrases “NPP” and “Osko” muttered in the media a lot this month and that’s because instant funds transfers between Aussie banks is finally a reality, sort of. Not every provider is on-board just yet, so you might not necessarily be able to send and receive cash super-fast, but to get your head around the new payments platform check out our updated guide.

It was also revealed that we’re seriously in love with our smartphone providers. According to Telstye, Aussies would consider switching banks based on the payments technology they provide on their particular smartphone, with Apple customers being the most loyal. There was even more chatter around payments with news that biometric payments - using our fingerprints and faces - are set to revolutionise the Aussie consumer banking sector this year.

RELATED: January financial wrap up

We also reported on peer to peer personal loan lender, Harmoney’s new partnership with DataRobot, allowing them to use AI to seriously improve turnaround times when it comes to your next personal loan application. There was also some bad news for Aussie crypto fiends as a couple of our major banks - including Commonwealth Bank and Virgin Money - implemented a ban on buying cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin) with your credit card.

Not sure of what ‘biometrics’ means or ‘AI’ stands for? Check out the 10 banking buzzwords all the cool kids are down with right now.

All things home ownership

It was a bit of a mixed bag when it came to homeowner news last month. Starting with the not so good news, a Mozo study found that Aussies could be paying thousands in unnecessary interest repayments if they fall into the introductory rate trap and fail to refinance once the honeymoon period comes to a close. And if that wasn’t incentive enough to go and check the variable interest rate on your home loan, this might do the trick, with UBank last month revealing that four out of five homeowners don’t actually know what their mortgage rate is right now. C’mon Australia, you’re better than that.

But now to the brighter side of stuff. Our home loan comparison tables were still showcasing some super-competitive offers and so our editors tore through them to deliver you our favourite few. Our property expert, Steve Jovcevski also came through with the goods last month and with the Easter long weekend approaching, delivered four weekend reno ideas to fit in before Sunday’s gargantuan lunch.

Last, but not by any means least, Australia’s brightest budding neobank, Xinja was finally awarded an Aussie Credit Licence meaning it’ll be fit, firing and most importantly lending partway through this year. Oh and did we mention it’ll be bringing customers approved home loans in about 20 minutes?

Renewables rock

Mozo’s newsroom was inundated with solar energy news in February. It all kicked off early in the month when Elon Musk, fresh from putting a car in space, joined forces with South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill to commit 50,000 Tesla batteries and solar panels to homes across the state - free of charge. The plan will be rolled out over the next four and a half years and you can register your interest for the program right here. And like that wasn’t enough, later in the month Weatherill pledged he would provide up to $100 million in interest-free loans for solar panels for South Australian residents - can you tell there is an election right around the corner?

But it isn’t just South Australia, the entire country is quite literally buying into the renewables revolution. According to the latest ABS data, Aussie solar panel intake is up 69% on this time last year with a record number of these money (and environment) savers being installed in January.

RELATED: November financial wrap up

And finally, backyard pools are a coveted feature of Australian homes, but if you’ve ever had the (mis)fortune of owning a heated pool, you’ll know just how pricey those kilowatts can be. Luckily, Pooled Energy and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency have dived into a new project that will automate pool systems, powering them down in off-peak times to save energy and money. The tech is just on trial in NSW at the moment, but keep your eyes peeled for further developments, pool proprietors. 

Travel trends get weirder

Those weird millennials are up to their old tricks again, completely redefining the art of travel. Yes that’s right, meet the Flashpacker. Aged 18-24, these nonchalant travellers have a high disposable income and are without major expenses so they’re splashing their cash on luxurious trips across the globe. The problem? They’re also least likely to find a travel insurance policy before heading abroad.

This month also featured our favourite holiday of the year as loved up couples headed out for a romantic evening on Valentine’s Day. The best thing about this was we were let in on some of Allianz Travel’s weirdest romance-related travel insurance claims, which included things like fractured wrists, wedding day stand ups and flushed engagement rings - how romantic.

So you want to save?

Finally, and what we would argue is the biggest news, Mozo launched its much-anticipated Experts Choice Awards for bank accounts, savings accounts and term deposits on the last day of the month. We crunched the data on a staggering 510 products on offer from 78 financial providers to let you know which offered the best value across a range of categories.

Just as a quick round up: UBank won our Savings Bank of the Year Award, RaboDirect won the SMSF Savings Bank of the Year and Westpac took the top gong as Best Major Bank for Deposits.

Congratulations to all the winners, you can check out a full list of them along with a rundown of the judging criteria by clicking through to our Mozo Experts Choice hub.

See ya next month!