Banking

CBA invests in shopping start-up Little Birdie and energy retailer Amber

As part of its enhanced digital strategy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has taken minority investments in Little Birdie, an as yet-to-launch online shopping start-up, and Amber, which provides subscription-based access to wholesale electricity prices.

“We are integrating new services into our platform to customise and personalise the digital experience in ways that will increase engagement and bring greater value to our customers,” says CBA CEO, Matt Comyn.

CBA seeks to “personalise the digital experience” for users

The strategic partnerships with “disruptive businesses” are intended to further differentiate CBA’s banking proposition.

“It’s about moving beyond customer service and delivering more rewarding experiences and better outcomes that will build a deeper, more trusted relationship with our customers.”

Melbourne-based Little Birdie is an e-commerce start-up that aims to be the “new homepage of online shopping”.

It is not due to launch until mid-June. CBA has taken a 23% per cent stake, valued at AUD 30 million ($23.2 million), in prelaunch funding. The bank will integrate Little Birdie’s shopping content, including exclusive offers, into its consumer banking app.

Little Birdie will aggregate more than 70 million products from different online brands and stores, with the aim of being the first place shoppers turn to when making purchases.

Users will be able to use Little Birdie to track and compare products, and seek price drops, sales and offers.

CBA says the partnership will help to connect its 7.5m digitally active customers with its 700,000 business customers. It will complement the bank’s 50/50 partnership with Klarna in Australia and StepPay, CBA’s recently announced buy now, pay later card. Deals and offers from Little Birdie will also be integrated with CBA’s goal savings products.

While Little Birdie is launching first in Australia, it will also look at expansion into South-east Asia and the US.

The bank is also taking 25% shareholding, valued at AUD 20 million, in Amber, which provides subscription-based access to wholesale electricity prices.

“Our partnership with Amber will help to differentiate our home buying proposition, with Amber providing direct access to wholesale prices and bringing additional discounts for CBA customers,” says Comyn.

Amber was set up in 2017 and gives customers direct access to the real-time wholesale energy price for a monthly subscription fee of $15.

Amber’s technology empowers customers to save more on their energy bills by using power when cheaper and greener renewables are available in the grid.

In addition to the investments, CBA has launched a pilot under the new Consumer Data Right (CDR), becoming the first major Australian bank to allow customers to view account balances from other eligible financial institutions directly in the CommBank app.

Related: Australia’s Commonwealth Bank to back 25 start-ups


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