86 400 Chairman Anthony Thomson and CEO Robert Bell
Digital bank 86 400’s fourth product since launching last last September is somewhat unexpected for a financial institution – an electricity analysis and switching service.
Announcing Energy Switch today CEO Robert Bell said “Energy Switch service delivers on our purpose to help Australians take control of their money – prompting them to find a better energy deal and save time and money in the process”.
Bell was quick to point out that it wasn’t designed as a money spinner for the bank – 86 400 won’t receive any commissions if a customer changes supplier.
“This isn’t about us making commission on the switch, but about giving customers the best independent analysis of their electricity bills. No ifs, buts or kick-backs,” he said.
The free service launches in February and will make 86 400, the first Australian financial institution to independently assess its customers’ current electricity spend. All you have to do is email the bank your latest electricity bill and it will send you three electricity plans with an estimate of how much money you’d save.
The bank’s Energy Switch is not related to the NSW government’s comparison service of the same name.
86 400 currently compares plans from just four suppliers: Amaysim, Energy Australia, Momentum Energy and Powershop and says it’s working on adding more to the roster. That leaves out two of the “big three” – AGL, Origin and Energy Australia, which supply around 70% of the market. There are now around 40 energy retailers.
Energy comparison has been a boom market since national energy laws were introduced in 2012, with the market regular offering its own site Energy Made Easy and the Victorian government producing Switch On.
There have also been multiple commercial sites, including bulk discount site One Big Switch, co-founded by Kevin Rudd’s former press secretary Lachlan Harri, which counts News Corp among its shareholders, and iSelect, Compare the Market and Canstar.
Consumer site Choice estimates that Australians pay a whopping $1.2 billion more than they should for their energy. The organisation has been critical of the commercial comparison sites for their lack of transparency.