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86 400

Australia's first smartbank, working on your money so you can feel in control, every second of every day. All eighty-six four hundred of them.

The Company

86 400 is Australia’s first smartbank, built for smartphones. It is the only digital bank that allows customers to connect accounts from other financial institutions, giving them greater visibility of their financial picture. Using smart technology, the app displays users’ most relevant information about spending, saving and bills, so customers can plan forward, as well as look backwards. Australians can open an 86 400 account in just 120 seconds, giving them great rates, no monthly fees, plus instant access to Apple Pay and Google Pay.

86 400 was the first “neobank” (digital bank) to market in Australia. Led by CEO Robert Bell and chaired by Anthony Thomson, 86 400 launched in September 2019 with transaction and savings accounts. It is well capitalized and backed by top tier Australian

investors, including Australia’s leading independent payments provider, Cuscal Ltd. In July of 2020, 86 400 closed its Series A capital raise which will help further accelerate product and feature development- focused on delivering even greater insights to help customers take control of their money.

The Challenge

86 400 was building a new bank with a single customer channel – a mobile app. Their target customers were using both Apple and Android devices and they needed to deliver the same functionality to both (ie. no bias to either platform). And one of their goals was to have both apps built and available for day one.

The challenge: they wanted to release features to market as fast as possible. Once live in the app stores, the team needed to support a high frequency of change to increase the functionality of the app. They wanted the ability to release new features and functionality for customers on a very frequent basis (every 2-3 weeks), as well as deploy hotfixes promptly without waiting for app store approvals.

The Strategy

The team evaluated two options – native and hybrid app development. Native apps produced the richest experience, however they were slower and more expensive to develop, and would require two separate, highly specialized teams of developers to maintain two codebases. Feature delivery would be difficult to achieve simultaneously to both platforms.

The hybrid development approach offered a way to build for iOS and Android using web technology instead of the native languages, while still providing access to all of the phone’s software and hardware, like biometric sensors and push notifications, just like a native app. Because hybrid means only one codebase to manage, this approach requires less development resources and allows for a beautiful, consistent UI across all platforms.

Hybrid hasn’t always been the most obvious choice but as mobile phones have become more powerful and browsers have evolved to support more features, programming support for hybrid apps has grown massively over the past few years. Today, hybrid apps are indistinguishable from most native apps and as development teams, like 86 400, have caught on to these benefits, hybrid and other cross-platform approaches have come to dominate the app stores, accounting for roughly 30% of the Apple App Store and nearly 50% of the Google Play Store.

The Selection

As a leader in hybrid mobile app development, Ionic was one of several tools that the 86 400 team evaluated, including Xamarin, React Native, and Phonegap. Having assessed the various solutions, the 86 400 team selected Ionic after determining it would provide the most cost-effective solution for delivering a modern app across both platforms. Given the team’s tight deadlines and the critical nature of the app, 86 400 opted into Ionic Enterprise, which provided them with access to the full suite of premium products and services, including Ionic experts via Ionic’s Advisory service, as well as Appflow, a mobile DevOps solution that helps the 86 400 team automate deployments and publish live updates directly to user devices.

The Evolution

Seven months after its initial launch, the two key technologies powering the app - Ionic and Angular, released upgrades. This coincided with 86 400 rolling out even more features and functionality for customers, and the platforms play a major role in achieving this goal.

Ionic released version 5 (and Angular moved to version 8, soon to be version 9), and the bank’s app developers had the tools they needed to complete the complex upgrade in a short timeframe. It wasn’t all smooth sailing - a bug in the Android app update prevented some customers from using their fingerprint to log in, but with the help of the Enterprise Advisory team, these hiccups were quickly identified and hotfixes deployed. Recently, Ionic Advisory helped the 86 400 team troubleshoot their Firebase plugin issues. Reaching out to Ionic for assistance is simple, with a dedicated Slack channel for quick support.

“The experience we were able to deliver with the initial version (Ionic 3), was well received by our customers, even those who were native die-hards. The upgrade to Ionic 5 has delivered even better experiences and performance. The difference in the performance between hybrid and native Apps is now marginal. We’ve been delighted with the outcome.” - Brian Parker, Chief Information Officer at 86 400.

Key Benefits & Results

With Ionic, 86 400 successfully brought their app to market quickly, and has released approximately 40 versions of the app since its initial deployment. Other benefits include:

  • Efficiency. Ionic provided the team with the most cost effective solution for delivering a modern app to both platforms, enabling them to meet their lofty goals: the frequent release of new, high-quality features. It also allowed them to use Angular and TypeScript, which massively boosts developer efficiency.
  • Support. The Enterprise Advisory team supports the 86 400 team regularly, and  Ionic documentation proves very helpful and is consistently kept up to date..
  • Scalability. Ionic enabled the team to support two separate codebases and scale as quickly as was needed. The developers were now armed with the tools needed to maintain the volume of features and functions, and maintain the speed required for this app to be successful. Ionic allowed them to do this with limited resources.
  • Time savings. 86 400 is able to ship updates every two weeks and rapidly make changes. Ionic Appflow has enabled the team to provide live app updates in real time on the few occasions they’ve needed to push out a hotfix. Appflow has also helped save time when making smaller incremental enhancements by enabling the team to sidestep the app store submission processes (Appflow is fully compliant with Apple and Android requirements).

86 400 measures success not only by its remarkable customer satisfaction scores, but also by its growth: the bank has more than 225,000 accounts on its platform currently and is progressing ahead of target to reach 500,000 by the end of the financial year. To date, 86 400 has more than $300m in customer deposits, has processed more than $1bn in transactions, with 650,000 transactions and balance updates taking place each day. It is the only neobank in the Australian market to offer home loans, and remains the only digital mortgage for brokers.

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