Australia's neobanks are publishing roadmaps of their future app features, as a way of being transparent with customers

Jack Derwin
  • Australia's first wave of neobanks are letting the public peek at their app roadmaps.
  • 86 400 published its plans on Wednesday, joining rivals Xinja and Up Bank in doing so.
  • It comes as part of their push to differentiate themselves from the big four banks and put the customer first.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

You can't fault them on transparency.

While still burgeoning, and barely a few months into their launch, Australia's publicly available neobanks have all now published their product roadmaps, revealing to customers exactly what features are in the pipeline.

On Wednesday, 86 400 published its own public Trello board, accessible here, which shows whether a new feature is in 'planning', 'in progress' or 'done', as well as explaining what each will offer customers. The three classifications explain whether something is being designed and tested, being built or in pilot, or can be used right now. In total, the neobank suggests a feature, once approved, takes between 3-6 months to be delivered, with customers able to upvote those they're the most excited about.

Chief among them are push notifications, the ability to create a PayID -- allowing customers to pay people via their phone number or email address -- and scheduled payments.

It's all part of a transparency push amongst Australia's first wave of neobanks. Xinja has a similar Trello board, made accessible to waitlist customers around the middle of last year and now publicly available. Set out slightly differently, it shares exactly which quarter each feature will be delivered, with customers encouraged to join Xinja's forum to have their say on the plans.

By the end of March, Xinja is promising multiple high-interest accounts, rewards for referring friends, and providing greater information on where you're spending your money and on what. Instant payments, recurring and international payments as well as personal loans are set out for delivery by the middle of the year. Bigger picture items like mortgages and joint accounts meanwhile are simply set out for the 'future'.

Up, which has more than a year headstart on its competitors, was the forerunner to the idea. It has gone down a different path with its 'Tree of Up', an expansive technology tree that covers exactly what each part of the business is working on from accounts and payments to tracking user activity and customer communication.

"It's a good match for how we think about developing such a potentially large and complex app — foundational functionality such as accounts and payments are like building blocks that enable us to build more advanced features on top of them," Up tells customers who view the plan.

According to the visually pleasing tree, international payments, the ability to forward payments and request money from other users are all in the pipeline.

Business Insider Australia understands that Volt is also considering a similar roadmap when it launches in the next week or two.

They're not the first companies to do so. According to Trello, the platform of choice for most public roadmaps, the trend is rife amongst small tech startups in the US and especially among game developers. In a 2014 blog post, Trello said, "a public roadmapping board is a great place to engage with your community, get input from power users, share your product’s development, and keep people up to date on any issues or releases."

Of course, it's not total transparency. Xinja has a couple of 'Secret Sexy Squirrel' items to note features it is planning but won't reveal until launch. While not offering euphemisms, 86400 and Up both provide the caveat that they aren't sharing absolutely everything they're working on.

For the fledgling banks, the roadmaps are evidently a good way to lay the masterplan out and promise new features directly to customers. However, it also highlights the ground neobanks have to make up in developing the kind of features, like scheduled payments, that Australians already expect from their bank.

However, in offering the blueprints, neobanks are doing something some with which the big four are unfamiliar. That is putting customers at the middle of their designs and being honest about what they are and aren't doing. It started with consultation sessions and feedback channels and extends to their business roadmaps.

Now, the onus is on Australia's neobanks to actually deliver.

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