Volt boosts Banking-as-a-Service capability with $15 million investment and strategic partnership with AFG

Volt co-founder and chief Steve Weston. Source: supplied.

Aussie neobank Volt has secured a further $15 million in funding through a partnership with mortgage origination company the Australian Finance Group.

The deal will boost Volt’s Banking-as-a-Service offering, launched through a partnership with Microsoft last year, and will make white-labelled digital mortgage products available to AFG’s network of almost 3,000 brokers.

A white-labelled personal finance manager product — also powered by Volt — will eventually also be rolled out to AFG clients, the idea being that mortgage brokers will offer this to clients to provide a more efficient home-loan application process.

These white-labelled products are expected to be piloted in Q4 2021, and rolled out to the whole of AFG’s network in early 2022.

The partnership and investment is an endorsement of the neobank’s digital financial services offering, and “a landmark moment for our company,” Volt co-founder and chief Steve Weston said in a statement.

“The management of financial services is no longer the domain of a handful of large institutions,” he added.

“Volt wants to facilitate a future where a range of businesses, large and small, can deepen their customer relationships through Volt’s Banking-as-a-Service offering.”

This news follows something of a rocky patch for the Australian neobank sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw Volt put the launch of its personal lending product on pause. Instead, the startup pivoted to focus its mortgage product and Banking-as-a-Service capability.

Competitor Xinja announced in late 2020 that it would be closing its doors, citing the pandemic and the challenge in sourcing capital as contributing factors. And in early 2021, 86 400 announced it was to be acquired by NAB.

In an interview with SmartCompany Plus, Weston admitted this change and uncertainty has been challenging. It’s also been something of a test of leadership.

How do you keep your team engaged and optimistic when they’re facing cut hours, remote work and even redundancies, and when your whole industry is in turmoil?

“It’s amazing how understanding people are, and how good their bullshit detectors are,” Weston told SmartCompany.

Throughout the crisis, he’s tried to hold on to the “human factor”, even when making agonising decisions.

It’s been about communicating exactly what’s happening within the Volt business and why, and avoiding reassurance when it’s not warranted.

“If you explain all the reasons behind the decisions, people are not going to be clicking their heels and delighted, but they’ll feel respected and appreciated,” Weston said.

You can read the full interview on Weston’s approach to leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in SmartCompany Plus, here

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