Up High

Up High

Up High

The Making of Up High

Last month we launched Up High Early Access — a chance to join us on the journey and participate in shaping Up High, our subscription offering launching later in 2024. This post is a look at why we’re building it, what it could become, and why you might consider joining Early Access.

Fee-less Entry

When we launched Up back in October 2018 fees were everywhere in banking — monthly fees, ATM fees, foreign exchange fees. Ugh. As bank customers ourselves, we were not fans of these fees. So given the chance to build our own bank we did our best to delete as many of them as we could. We were proud to launch Up with no monthly or FX fees. And when you look at banking today, 5 years on, there seem to be fewer and fewer banks charging them. We like to think we might have played a small role in that change.

So if we don’t believe customers should have to pay monthly fees for a great transactional banking experience why then are we introducing a subscription offering? A set of features for a monthly cost — isn’t that just a bank fee by another name? We’d argue not.

Up High is a subscription product with a monthly cost, but unlike a typical bank fee, you only pay up if you want to! Up High does not represent the pay-walling of Up, where things that used to be free now attract a charge. It is vitally important to us that paying for Up High should not be a path to greater security, accessibility or financial well-being. And that we continue to innovated with and strengthen our core, free experience.

A subscription offering will, however, enable us to build out more advanced features, perhaps only desireable to a smaller subset of customers —  features that would otherwise have been very unlikely to see the light of day. Our Notes & Attachments feature is a an example of this. Recently added to Up High Early Access, it's a feature vitally important to the few, and less critical to the many. Having a paying subscriber base gives us capacity to go deeper on customisation and configuration options, while maintaining a strong and intuitive core product. And excitingly, beyond the power-user features, Up High will allow us to explore new spaces, be they in brand partnerships, software experiences or in-person events.

Permission To Launch

Before heading down this path it was important to us we consult with Upsiders and get a temperature check. Would anyone be interested in a subscription offering? Was this even a good idea?

In August last year we asked over 60,000 Upsiders whether they’d be interested in a subscription offering. We presented a set of features and benefits we thought might make such a proposition attractive. Of the Upsiders who were interested, we had them rank those features in order of appeal. For those who weren’t interested, we wanted to understand why, so set up short surveys to capture objections.

This consultative approach has been central to how we’ve approached the roll-out of a subscription offering. We want to develop something that offers genuine value that Upsiders are happy, not reluctant, to pay for. We want to build it carefully and collaboratively. And we’re still early in that journey.

Last year’s survey was a key validation checkpoint. Minimal interest would have sent us a strong signal to reconsider the idea. In fact, interest levels were off the charts — more than 3 in 4 Upsiders expressed interest in Up High.

This result armed us with confidence to move into the next phase of Up High — validating the value. Are the features and benefits we’re building for Up High worth paying for every month? It’s this question that is at the heart of this next phase of Up High: Early Access.

Early Access

Rather than spending months or years developing features in the dark, culminating in a big bang launch, we want to bring interested Upsiders along with us on the journey as we build the offering out. This means launching with something pretty basic and taking it from there.

Early Access will be a program that regularly improves as we release new features and benefits. It will run until we get confidence that we’ve got something participants both love and would happily pay for. How long will that take? Our guess is that it’ll likely be some time in the second half of this year, but it could take longer.

When we eventually get to the point we believe Up High is ready to launch, Early Access participants will get the first 3 months free. We’re very excited by the potential of Up High — we think it should become an absolute no-brainer for a significant number of Upsiders, and that the value in it will far outweigh the monthly subscription cost. Even once Up High has launched, we plan to continue to develop features and offer great benefits to subscribers.

Up High is not about a redirection of effort from our free offering. We are absolutely committed to making Up the best it can possibly be, and extending our lead over the rest of the industry. Up High provides us with the opportunity to do even more — to create a team aiming to reach for even greater heights and explore the galaxy of what the brand can become. Doing things differently is something that sets Up apart. And Up High gives us the means to do more of that.

What’s Next?

Since launching Early Access we’ve already shipped a new feature — Notes & Attachments. With it, you can add notes and photos to your transactions. Great for adding the “what” or “why” to a purchase you’ll otherwise forget or capturing a receipt for long-term storage. Thousands of Early Access participants are using that feature as we speak.

Currently, much of our focus is on one of the bigger features we proposed in our Expression of Interest survey — the Essentials Saver. This is a separate account for bills that will contain the smarts to automatically transfer just the right amount of money from your spending account to cover your regular bills. Being a separate account, it’s “fire-walled” off so the money can’t be touched. It earns interest. It might do some other cool stuff too. We’re aiming to release it some time over the next few months.

We’ll also be looking to push out a few smaller features over the coming months, so jump on Talk To Us and let us know if there’s something in particular you’re hanging for.

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