Volt to develop ‘next-gen’ BaaS platform set to ‘radically reshape’ banking in Australia

Volt Bank Weston CEO

Australia’s first ADI-accredited neobank, Volt, has announced it is developing a “next-generation” Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform that could allow its business partners to offer Volt’s deposit products directly to their own customers and give incumbents a legacy-free environment to “accelerate” their own service innovations.

Dubbed Volt 2.0, the new BaaS platform, built in partnership with Microsoft, will enable the neobank’s business partners to offer Volt’s banking and payments services natively to their own clients, acting “as an extension of pre-existing Volt partnerships with a number of household brands”, the bank said in a statement.

The development of the platform represents a notable expansion beyond the neobank’s consumer-oriented service offering – itself still in beta and readying for launch by 2020’s end – effectively opening its banking services, including deposit accounts, to business partners as ‘white-labelled’ products.

Volt says it has received considerable interest from its business partners to distribute its products and services through their own channels.

“Volt 2.0 will securely support multiple brands and diverse customer types, and deliver unique and valued customer experiences,” it said.

This includes allowing ‘white-label banking’, “where retailers could offer financial services to customers directly or via their existing loyalty programs”.

This could see a number of non-bank financial services organisations, including payments companies and digital currency exchanges and even non-FSIs, providing deposit accounts tied directly to Volt.

Volt said incumbent banks could also leverage the platform to help “accelerate the deployment of future banking services… and overcome the limitations of legacy banking systems”.

Based on Microsoft Azure cloud, Volt said the new BaaS platform, developed with Microsoft and LAB3 engineers, would provide “high performance, [scalability]… secure data storage and advanced analytics capability”.

Volt chief executive and founder Steve Weston noted the platform would need to have the “capability to adapt to the changing market and the evolving needs of our customers and partners, as well as the evolving technologies available in the market”.

“We work with strategic partners that are continuously innovating their products and services, so our industrial-grade banking platform is always cutting-edge,” Weston said.

Volt’s choice to partner with Microsoft was unsurprising given its existing core retail banking system, based on the Temenos T24 platform, is hosted on Azure’s cloud.

The development of Volt 2.0 augurs a potentially transformative shift in the way banking services are delivered to and used by consumers. This could see non-bank businesses serve as a front-line face for the bank’s services, whereby banking products can be offered directly to their own customer base or used to augment existing services, such as loyalty programs.

Steven Worrall, Microsoft Australia managing director acknowledged the disruptive potential of the neobank’s emerging platform, believing it could “radically reshape financial services in Australia and globally”.

He said Microsoft Azure offers the “natural platform for this sort of mission-critical and transformative application”.

“The key to Volt’s differentiated experience is data, for both its direct customers and the customers of its BaaS partners. Microsoft Azure has the proven ability to support high availability machine learning and real-time notifications to deliver new forms of customer services and also perform sub-second card transactions.”

Worrall further touted Azure’s “automated modular assets” and “advanced DevOp’s capabilities”, which he said would enable Volt’s business-ready BaaS platform “to be delivered at speed in a secure and scalable manner”.

This includes the ability to tap into Azure’s machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities, he said.

Volt had hoped to launch its deposit and lending products to customers earlier this year but was delayed due to the Covid crisis. Expected to launch in the coming months, the neobank remains in “beta status” with prospective customers currently on a waitlist.