Westpac signs Flare up to use its banking-as-a-service platform

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Westpac signs Flare up to use its banking-as-a-service platform

Reveals platform and team expansions.

Westpac has revealed that Flare, a maker of HR software that is part backed by the bank's Reinventure fund, is set to become a user of its banking-as-a-service platform from early next year.

Flare's software helps businesses to manage payroll, employee onboarding and benefits.

It is set to expand its offering to include bank accounts via a pilot of Westpac's banking-as-a-service (BaaS) platform.

Flare recently signed a collaboration agreement to utilise Westpac’s BaaS platform, the bank's chief executive for specialist businesses and group strategy Jason Yetton told iTnews.

The trial is expected to start once SocietyOne - another sign-on to the BaaS platform - officially launches its own banking offering, which will include transaction accounts, in March next year.

“After SocietyOne, we plan to launch with Flare as well,” Yetton said, noting the timing would partially depend on Flare's ability to stand up a member app in time.

“These things are collaborations that are two-way," he said.

"It requires them to be ready with their app, as well as all the banking services to be enabled through their app, so I think it's probably more likely April or May [for commercial launch] in reality”.  

Digital home loan capability

Along with the addition of new BaaS customers, Yetton said Westpac is continuing to build out the BaaS platform itself.

“One of the questions that our partners ask us a lot of is, 'Can you design a home lending solution for our members?'" he said.

“When I look at [BaaS] partners like Afterpay, SocietyOne or Flare, a lot of their customer bases already have a mortgage or will be in the market for a mortgage…but a lot of them want to save money for a home.

“We'd like to offer a digital mortgage solution that's fast, that's easy that's intuitive, and gives good value.

"We'd like to build that out as that next product on the platform.”

Yetton said Westpac may also trial new home lending products and technologies intended for its own use via the BaaS platform - “as every bank, including Westpac, wants to improve its digital journey".

"We've got more than 4000 mortgage products in the country - it's not like you need another one. But what a lot of people say is that the process itself isn't very digital; it can't be done end-to-end in a seamless and easy way, and we'd like to change that experience with our partners," Yetton said.

“Home lending isn't an easy process, whether it's incorporating responsible lending or the settlement of a loan."

Outside of lending, Yetton said there are plans to offer more consumer banking services through the BaaS platform,.

“What that means for partners is that they get to choose which banking services [they offer to their customers]," he said.

Yetton said that the BaaS may also wind up offering services "that are not related to banking”.

“It might be [related to the] home search process, it might be knowing how to bid at auctions, it might go into all the kind of [financial] journeys that people find difficult," he said.

Team expansion

To assist with the continued growth and expansion of the BaaS platform, Yetton has made several new hires into his team, including the addition of Nicole Druce to the team.

He announced on LinkedIn this week the appointment of Nicole Druce as head of technology.

"Nicole picks up leadership of our technology team at a crucial point for banking-as-a-service, as we continue to optimise the platform, bring on new partners and more products," he wrote.

Last month, Christopher Gale was appointed chief commercial officer for the BaaS team alongside Chris Baker who joined as chief product officer.

According to Yetton, the BaaS team must operate “as a proper banking business” and is now searching for a chief executive officer, with Yetton stepping into the role on an interim basis.

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