Up bank to introduce a subscription fee – but customers are not impressed

A major Australian digital only bank says the ‘days of monthly bank fees are over’ after offering customers the chance to pay for their services by subscription.

Up, which calls itself Australia’s first mobile-only bank, is offering ‘interested customers’ a chance to trial subscription packages, which will ‘automate finances’ and give access to merchandise and ‘special events’. 

The subscription product, labelled Up High, has been met with resistance on social media, but Up claims it is the future of banking model. 

‘Rather than imposing a monthly fee on all our customers, we want to give them the choice,’ an Up spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.

‘They can continue with a great free offering, one that we continue to invest in, or opt-in to paying a monthly subscription to access that next level of functionality and control’.

The bank has not revealed how much the monthly subscription will cost, when asked by Daily Mail Australia.

Australian  digital only bank Up has introduced a subscription offering for its customers

Those signing on will be given an ‘exclusive merch pack’.

So far Up said it was still in the  ‘early access’ phase where ideas were being tested to ‘shape the offering’. 

‘Up High will eventually be available for a low monthly subscription,’ the bank said stating it be rolled out as an option to all its 700,000 customers. 

The bank claims the move has received enthusiastically.

‘We’ve been blown away by the early interest,’ the Up spokesperson said.

‘Introducing an optional paid tier into an offering that’s previously been free for all Upsiders is something we know needs to be done thoughtfully and respectfully. Having said that, we couldn’t have had a more positive response so far.’ 

Despite the bank’s optimism Up customers swarmed onto a private Facebook group to savage the proposed move to subscriptions.

‘if they start charging fees I’ll go back to a brick and mortar bank that employs humans,’ one said.

Is this real? I hope not. The fee I’m already paying is built in through the garbage savings interest account, wrote another.

On social media platform Reddit a user posted the subscription was offering additional accounts with separate pay ID, debit cards and expense splitting with other banks . 

‘They also had a survey at the end of it asking if I’ll be interested in this,’ they said.

Up claims its customers have been very enthusiastic about the trial of a subscription option

‘I said no personally as I do not want another subscription in my life.’

While they thought the features were good he didn’t think were ‘worth paying extra for, especially when Up already doesn’t give the best interest rate as of now’.

Another said: ‘If they start charging fees I’ll go back to a brick and mortar bank that employs humans.’

Many more were largely unconvinced by the idea. 

‘Sounds like an account keeping fee under a different name,’ one noted. 

‘Well separate pay ID is already around and not a new feature,’ another commented.

‘Up has its place in the market, but for a subscription, nah. I suspect they are trying to model a very USA vibe instead of catering to the local market.’

Another said the bank was looking for new revenue streams.

‘They are primarily going to do this through home loans but are basically rapidly searching for new avenues to maximise incomings, this subscription offering is simply one of them.

‘They have boxed themselves in a little as the existing app is already quite feature dense so most things they’re planning on offering just won’t add a huge lot of value.

‘I’m hoping they can just innovate in other areas rather than locking nice-to-have or existing features behind a paywall.’

One added: ‘Up is nearing the end of their proposed feature tree (you can see on their ‘tree of up’) and now have pressure to monetise their user base. 

On its website Up describes itself ‘as a totally digital, completely reimagined banking experience. It lives on your phone and has attracted a cult following’.

It was founded in 2018 as a partnership between Bendigo Bank and fintech firm Ferocia.

Ferocia founders Dom Pym and Grant Thomas, a former head coach of AFL side St Kilda, sold their share of Up to Bendigo and Adelaide Bank in 2021 for a reported $116 million. 

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank reported a net profit of $497 million for the last financial year, which was an increase of 1.8% from 2021- 2022. 

Former St Kilda AFL coach Grant Thomas is one of the co-founders of Up bank, which he exited in 2021 as part of a $116million buy out

Former St Kilda AFL coach Grant Thomas is one of the co-founders of Up bank, which he exited in 2021 as part of a $116million buy out

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