ANZ splits off ventures unit to speed up innovation

ANZ has spun off its innovations arm – known as ANZi – into a stand-alone business in a bid to speed up innovation and attract fintech partners. 

Once split from the bank, the business will be renamed “1835i” – a nod to the year the Bank of Australasia (now ANZ) was established under the Royal Charter, ANZ said. 

ANZ’s head of digital banking Maile Carnegie said in an internal blog that the time is right for ANZi to “leave the mothership”. 

“The ANZi team have done a terrific job gaining momentum,” Carnegie said. “Now it's time to let them start running at a pace, knowing they understand… what they need to deliver back to ANZ. 

"The 1835i team will remain an important part of ANZ’s ecosystem and our focus on making ANZ a simpler, better bank," she said. 

Carnegie said that a focus on partnerships will be where banks globally can “win the war” in the future. 

“When you look at innovation globally, the vast majority is typically happening outside the company rather than inside,” Carnegie argued.  

ANZi managing director Ron Spector said the intent is not to leave the bank altogether but rather move just outside ANZ’s “gravitational pull” to run faster with less friction and more efficiency.  

Attracting talent 

Splitting off 1835i will allow ANZi to operate without the same regulatory requirements that ANZ has as a bank, although ANZ will continue to fund 1835i’s investments and oversee its governance. 

Spector - who has appointed three partners with backgrounds across ANZ and the start-up community to assist him - stressed the need for speed, agility, and low costs which are essential to help drive innovation. 

“This new structure will make it easier to attract dynamic start-up talent with the right skills to help us accelerate the next stages of development.” 

In the three years since its creation, ANZi has launched three new companies, including the digital home loan distribution platform OneTwo Finance, theOneSpot, and Propps. It also holds eight investments in emerging growth companies, including foreign exchange provider Airwallex and the digital home loan origination platform The Lendi Group. ANZi has invested about $275 million to date.  

ANZ’s move follows the Commonwealth Bank which similarly launched an innovation business called x15 Ventures. It operates outside CBA’s usual bank processes and technology systems but remains a subsidiary of the bank. 

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