The closing of neobank Volt last week is a blow for all Australian bank customers.
Volt was one of a handful of neobanks promising to challenge the Big Four with better offers to customers and smarter and cheaper technology.
But last week it announced it would hand back A$100 million ($111.2m) in deposits to its 6000 customers and shut up shop from Tuesday July 5.
Neobanks are best described as agile, start-up banks. They don't have branches and operate entirely online and through apps, with the idea they can keep costs low through automation and pass on the savings to customers via competitive interest rates.
Plunging investment markets around the world and concerns about a global recession starved neobanks of new funds as investors backed out of providing the A$200m in capital it needed to write more home loans.
Volt is the latest neobank to exit the market.
Xinja collapsed when it started paying customers interest on deposits before earning income from loans; 86 400 was acquired in January last year by National Australia Bank; and Up, a start-up with 500,000 customers, was bought by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank last year.
The only survivor is Judo Bank, which listed on the share market late last year and whose shares are now trading at record lows. And while Judo Bank is a recent entry into the banking sector, it's not really a neobank, focusing only on the business market and relying on building personal relationships with customers.
Neobanks are nimble. Volt, for instance, built a mortgage platform that can issue to customers in 15 minutes. It's the result of not being lumbered with legacy IT systems, some of which date back to the 1970s.
Mortgage origination at the Big Four banks takes days if not weeks. They want to issue faster mortgages and have spent billions of dollars on IT projects – considerably more than Volt's spend. ANZ is hoping to have its new mortgage system operational some time next year, but given the banks' IT projects are chronically over time and over budget, this might be wishful thinking.
As an indication of what it might have spent, Volt raised just A$219m from investors.
The demise of the neobanks means the cosy Big Four Bank oligopoly is facing less threat of disruption.
Without Volt out there offering 15-minute mortgages there is little incentive for banks to lift their game.
Banks are capital-hungry beasts – Volt needed about A$7 in capital for every A$100 of mortgage lending. Without that money, it couldn't expand and wasn't viable. It was hoping to expand its mortgage book to A$5 billion by mid next year, when it expected to be breaking even.
The collapse of Volt is a blow for founder Steve Weston, a former big bank executive who had a vision of how retail banking could change for the better.
It's also a blow for the investors, although they might recoup some of their investment as Volt tries to sell its mortgage origination technology.
But most of all it's a blow for Australian bank customers, who can expect the Big Four banks to innovate and upgrade their services in their own time and to provide less attractive mortgage and deposit rates now that the threat from the neobanks has disappeared.
The salmon sector is hot right now with Australian acquaculture stocks eagerly sought by international players.
Tasmanian salmon farm Huon was snapped up by Brazilian meat processor JBS for A$425m last year and now Canada's family-owned seafood company Cooke Acquaculture is mounting a takeover bid for seafood producer Tassal. At the same time, there are market rumours New Zealand's King Salmon is also for sale.
A growing focus on proteins and global limits on new salmon farm licences because of environmental concerns have placed a floor under the salmon price. Rather than expanding at home, a lot of seafood companies are now looking overseas.
Cooke is a patient buyer, as most family-owned companies can afford to be. It first tried to buy Tassal for about A$280m a decade ago and will now have to pay over A$1b to buy the company.
And a successful takeover is far from certain.
Tassal has licences for an additional 25 per cent on top of the 40,000 tonnes of salmon it produces every year and is in the final stages of an investment program to give the business more scale.
Cooke has so far offered three increasing bids, with the final one 22 per cent higher than the pre-takeover bid share price.
It's hardly a generous premium by takeover standards and particularly not for a company with an assured supply of a scarce and increasingly sought after commodity.