WHEN Matilda Feckleton helped found a new Bendigo business, she got her ex-banker father's advice about a key piece of technology.
He warned her off using a big four bank to supply and run her EFTPOS system.
"He knows a lot about the hidden fees and surcharges," the co-owner of Hair & Halo Studio said.
It is an increasingly common story in regional areas as emerging financial technology - or fintech - reshapes the banking world, according to Josh McNicol.
About 42 per cent of his company's customers are in regional areas, including Hair & Halo, the growth director for fintech Zeller said.
"We're pleasantly surprised that business owners outside the big capital cities seem to be the fastest adopters of newer fintech technology like Zeller," he said
Part of the appeal is that banks have been shutting down ATMs and branches in some areas, though Mr McNicol said it was also about the services being offered.
"There's two elements to that. It's filling a hole that, perhaps, some of the traditional banks are leaving, and a desire for newer payment technology," he said.
Banks have not ignored fintechs, much to the relief - and occasional consternation - of shareholders.
Last February, the Bendigo Bank assured investors it was on the right track by buying up home loan startup Ferocia.
"I class myself as part of the older cohort too and I can relate to ... people [who] don't necessarily have the appreciation of what this younger generation are seeking from their financial institutions," managing director Marnie Baker said at the time.
"I've spent enough time with this cohort, I've spent enough time in this business, to get a really good appreciation of how aligned this proposition is with what consumers of the future are looking for."
Much of Bendigo bank's strategy relies on partnerships with fintechs, but it has also been prepared to buy groups.
That includes Ferocia, a banking app helping people save deposits for home loans.
The bank is also helping developers at banking app Up work on new products geared towards young people saving for their first homes.
Up is currently beta testing a new product the bank is talking up, called "Up Home", also geared at property buyers.
Bendigo Bank hopes its reputation will give the fintechs it backs an edge. Pollsters at Roy Morgan have just named it Australia's most trusted bank.
Over at Zeller, Mr McNicol says a partnership with Officeworks is helping his company reach more consumers.
"We believe that more fintech, more choice in the market, is best for the business owner," he said.
"By having new players come in with no contracts and more affordable pricing, it pushes down on that pricing and makes customer support better across the industry.
"Suddenly the more traditional players can no longer rest on their laurels with the offering they've provided."
That might be good news for Ms Feckleton and business partner Paris Johnston. They are considering expanding Hair & Halo into Geelong.
"I think in the next year or two we'd like to branch down there," Ms Feckleton said.
"We want to spend as much time as we can, at the moment, focusing on the salon we have just opened.
"It's been going for six months now and we want to get it up and running exactly how we want it."
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