The Australian, July 31, 2017
It’s no surprise that National Australia Bank’s dominant SME franchise is seen as rich pickings by NAB’s rivals as macroprudential intervention does its job of slowing runaway mortgage growth.
While the Sydney-based mortgage majors have enjoyed a multi-year dream run, growth in home lending is forecast to taper from six per cent this year to a snail-paced four per cent in 2018.
Suffice to say that NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn is well aware of the threat to his SME heartland.
The bank aims to build — as opposed to merely defend — its market share, and has a variety of digital and other initiatives coming to fruition this week.
The first is an extension of the QuickBiz digital platform for unsecured loans of up to $50,000.
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While QuickBiz was launched last year, the platform will now offer an overdraft or credit card option for up to the same amount.
The extension is in response to customer demand for quick credit and uses data already held by NAB to streamline the process.
In other digital initiatives, the bank is conducting a pilot of its upgraded NAB Connect mobile app, which improves payment authorisation flows and enables customers to authorise single and bulk payments as well as check their account balances on the go.
A trial is also underway for a new customer onboarding process for SMEs, which allows sole traders and single-director companies to open an account online in 10 minutes instead of several days.
Finally, NAB is hosting its inaugural Digi Week for SME customers.
Kicking off today and lasting all week, SMEs can attend or tune in online to speakers from a range of businesses such as Facebook, Deliveroo and REA Group on how to build a digital business.
The initiatives come together as competition between lenders intensifies in the SME sector.
NAB is signalling its determination to retain market leadership in the lucrative segment.