Competition by Virtual Banks

The history of virtual banks, intended to improve competition, has done an ‘Australian’. The newcomers are failing or have been bought out by [you may have guessed already].


I have had ING accounts since year 2000 in three different countries. My first one, in Spain, was probably due to becoming aware of the interest paid by the bank on deposits. I hadn’t experienced that for years in Australia. I also had a local account with Banc Sabadell.

I then lived in UK for a couple of years, and as luck would have it, ING started operating there during that time. I opened an account immediately, based on my excellent experience in Spain. I also opened a local account with Co-Operative Bank.

In Australia, I had a Westpac account since about 1989. It was very expensive, but there weren’t any better options. I kept it going until about 2008, when the Darwin CBD branch manager called me out of the blue on the telephone, and said she’d like to meet me, and that she’d like to be “my personal banker”. The bank must have been doing some PR. I happily set an appointment with her, and on the day, I told her that she wasn’t going to like it. I explained to her my experience with the Big 4, and that Westpac had charged me massive monthly fees for some accounts I had, even though they had stopped charging monthly fees for a while for new accounts, and they hadn’t told me. I also explained some other customer service disappointments that I had experienced with Westpac, and that I was there at that meeting because it was a golden opportunity to give Westpac some meaningful feedback; please close all my accounts and remove all my data from all your databases; best of luck for your future.

ING is still the most reliable, highest interest-paying, most convenient bank that I have used. ING made a slip-up in 2010. I tried to withdraw a bundle of cash, and convert it to RMB, because I was flying to China the next day. My card wouldn’t work. I wasted a load of time on the telephone in ShangHai trying to have the replacement card delivered to me there, but it didn’t work. Luckily, I had enough RMB on hand to tide me over, and only had to borrow about AUD$50 from my friends in ShangHai for the last couple of days. I called ING again when back in Australia, and an employee told me, “Ah, so you’re not a Deceased Estate. We’ll send you a new card.” That might have been because of some deposits I had paid in 2009 for hotel bookings had been refunded, because some friends of mine cancelled the bookings, bless 'em, when it turned out that I wasn’t able to go owing to an inattentive car driver.

I’d prefer if there was an equivalent based in Australia, and in fact I signed up to a new bank called 86400, used it for a while, and was gradually increasing my number of accounts, with the intention of gradually moving to it completely, including having my salary paid to it, etc.Sadly, it was bought by NAB in January 2021, so I closed my accounts. 86400 recently changed its name to “ubank”.

Maybe Members’ Equity or Bank Australia are feasible, but I haven’t spent the time to look into them. Also, I would be tempted to use a building society, because they seem to be slicker operators than the “Aussie” banks.


I was looking for a bank years ago that would offer the best interest on my savings, and good general banking services like card access to my accounts and no fees.
It came down to ING or Ubank.
I chose the latter as it offered more interest, and have had no issues at all.
If you specifically dislike the ‘big four’ banks for some idealogical reason, then Ubank is a part of the NAB group. It is their Virtual Bank.


I know. I opened accounts with “86400”, with the intention of moving fully from ING to an Australian bank, but then NAB bought it and renamed is “ubank”. That meant I had to close my accounts.

It’s not for ideological reasons. See Final Report for the list of reasons.

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The report is in 3 volumes with many issues and conclusions. Could you be a bit more explicit?

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Either you don’t like using a bank named Ubank, or you don’t like using a bank associated with a major. So which is it?
Lets hope you avoided a bank named Volt.


Yeah virtual banks seem to being bought out or at least need a regular bank backing it to survive. Access to cash is the main determining factor. I’ve been with NAB almost 3 decades and have Ubank account too. Mainly signed up for 86400 and Revolut for introductory signup $$$ :sunglasses:

Then NAB bought out 86400 and renamed it so I have 2x Ubank accounts!