Australian fintech Avenue announces new CEO to boost launch of challenger SME bank

Australian fintech Avenue announces new CEO to boost launch of challenger SME bank

Australian fintech Avenue is preparing to launch a dedicated bank for small business after securing former Commonwealth Bank executive George Confos as CEO and launching a Series B funding round.

Avenue is building a digital first bank that will provide new innovative products to free up cashflow, so business owners can do more with their money.

Confos joins Avenue with 30 years’ experience in the banking and financial services industry. Most recently, he held the position of Executive General Manager Client Solutions at Commonwealth Bank, where he led significant business and technology transformations.

Avenue is the brainchild of entrepreneurs, Colin Porter and Dale Hurley, who founded CreditorWatch, a credit reporting bureau that disrupted a $4 billion duopoly held by Equifax and Illion.

“I’m delighted to welcome George to the Executive team,” Porter said. “His extensive financial and banking expertise will be extremely valuable as we prepare to enter the market with a different breed of business bank, that aims to put money back in the hands of businesses.”

Confos said Avenue has the potential to inject some much-needed competition into the traditionally underserviced SME banking sector.

“It’s time small businesses had access to a new kind of bank which finds more ways for small businesses to access valuable cash-flow. We have fresh ideas to solving an age-old problem SMEs continue to face and I feel energised to be part of an organisation that wants to exceed the current business banking service standards and significantly improve Australian small business lending offerings.

“We have the freedom to do things right from the start and make sure the country’s valuable small business community know they no longer have to do things on their own, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Avenue will use the period prior to launch to carefully study the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the SME credit market, so that this information can be factored into Avenue’s credit decisioning system to give SMEs struggling in the current environment a lifeline.

“There’s been many efforts from the government that have allowed businesses to survive through the crisis, but the full economic impact is yet to be felt and the challenges will last beyond the immediate support programs. We’re committed to making a difference and Avenue will be ready to help SMEs repair and rebuild after COVID has passed by introducing innovative solutions to unlock cash fast,” said Peita Piper, Chief Customer Officer and founding member of UBank.

Avenue closed previous funding rounds with $11.4m and is initiating a KPMG led Series B funding round to sophisticated investors, to raise capital for the development of unique products, investment in technology and building out their experienced team.

In preparation for launch, Avenue confirmed that it anticipates receiving its Restricted ADI (RADI) licence from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) late this year and is seeking to become a fully licensed, independent bank and launch its first products for business in late 2021.

Avenue will be digitally enabled for a seamless customer experience and use smart data integrations to reduce time and manual entry during the application process.

In addition, Avenue has pulled together a strong board and executive team with a mix of proven entrepreneurs and those with an extensive track record in the financial services industry.

The Leadership Team includes Peita Piper, Chief Customer Officer and founding member of U Bank, Jacqui McPherson, Chief Technology Officer and former CTO of challenger bank, Xinja. Raf Uy, Chief Financial Officer, previously CFO at Zurich Australia and Financial Controller at St. George Bank Commercial Bank; Ji Hee Moon, Acting Chief Risk Officer, previously the Chief Compliance Officer at Westpac Business Bank.