Emerging Sydney fintech Avenue Bank has been granted a restricted banking licence by the financial regulator APRA.
The digital bank has been gearing up for this moment after raising $37 million in a series B round back in February.
Veteran CBA exec George Confos was appointed Avenue CEO last year. The fintech previously raised $11.4 million.
Avenue is backed by Sherman Ma’s Liberty Financial Group and is looking to push into the small-medium business lending territory currently dominated by Judo Bank and fintechs such as Prospa.
The APRA approval means Avenue can offer short-term working capital lending to SMEs. The neobank is hoping for a full licence by mid 2022.
Avenue Bank was co-founded by Colin Porter and Dale Hurley, the duo behind disruptive credit reporting bureau CreditorWatch a decade earlier.
They plan to apply similar technology for credit analysis for small business customers. Hurley is Avenue’s chief technology officer. The pair sold CreditorWatch in 2017.
The experience of being entrepreneurs struggling to deal with finance from the big banks and feeling like they were being treated as second-class citizens that inspired them to build Avenue.
They’ve been building out Avenue’s core banking technology and setting up the neobank’s ‘go to market’ strategy in the six months between the raise and restricted licence.
CEO George Confos said the impacts of the pandemic lockdowns had made the Avenue value proposition even more pronounced especially to fill the gap between government support schemes tapering and a pick up in business activity.
“Our mission remains the same and we aim to explore more ways to leverage our status as a bank, offering unique services in the market, upon becoming an ADI,” he said.
“Avenue’s innovative and digitally enabled product suite will deliver a much-needed cash injection to help Australian businesses. We’re solving real problems for real people, focusing initially on small and medium-sized enterprises.”
The approval of a restricted ADI comes just two months after Alex Bank was granted the same licence by APRA.