Fintech Australia has unveiled its founding committee with the aim of establishing a national ecosystem for fintech innovation.
Fintech Australia has unveiled its founding committee with the aim of establishing a national ecosystem for fintech innovation and making Australia the “leading market” for fintech in Asia Pacific.
The association, which was first formed in October 2015, held its inaugural annual general meeting last week, with Reinventure Group’s co-founder and managing director, Simon Cant, elected as president.
“Our aim as an organisation is to be a voice for the fintech community. I think everybody’s excited, positive and buoyant about what we’ve been able to achieve in a very short space of time,” Cant said.
“In three months, we’ve gone from a standing start to producing a call to action which really did get the attention of the [Federal] Government.”
The news comes on the back of the Turnbull Government launching its own fintech advisory panel two weeks ago aimed at producing a “more effective” and productive economy, a move which Cant lauded as a positive step to ensure that Australia remained “as competitive as possible” when attracting fintech start-ups globally.
While Cant said the formation of the government-led fintech advisory panel and regulatory bodies like ASIC’s own Digital Finance Advisory Committee were “incredibly positive” for fostering greater collaboration, he hinted at a key challenge faced by fintech in Australia in the past being that of the limitations imposed by a regulatory environment that was not keeping pace with the latest developments and innovation in the financial services sector.
“It’s been difficult and it’s been fragmented … I think those regulators have struggled because they keep coming up against the limits of their own flexibility which is circumscribed by legislation,” Cant said.
“[Our] central rallying cry is being the best environment for fintech globally, [which] is a highly competitive space. I think where we’ve got to now is that now we’re dealing with the legislator in a coordinated way and I think that’s a really big win.”
A “crucial step” for Australia’s innovation journey
SelfWealth’s managing director, Andrew Ward, praised the formation of Fintech Australia saying that there was a need for a central Australian fintech body that provided a collective intelligence which emerging start-ups could tap into and access.
“Where it will really benefit [local] companies like SelfWealth, is in opening doors we don’t have the keys to right now,” he said.
“We are thrilled to see a central source of knowledge that can cut a lot of corners for start-ups and fintechs. [However], it should be a two way street too [so that] we will then be able to share what we’ve learnt.”
MoneyPlace chief executive, Stuart Stoyan, said the formation of Fintech Australia as a national body to represent the fintech industry was a crucial step forward for Australia’s innovation journey.
“In a relatively short time you have the country’s leading fintechs come together and agree a set of priority issues which we have presented to Treasury,” he said.
“We have a unified vision and together will ensure Australia is competitive on a regional and global basis.”
The push for regulatory reform
Last month, Fintech Australia pooled together a new submission to the Federal Government which outlined nine main areas for policy reform. Among its key recommendations, the association has called on the Federal Government to:
- adopt mandatory, comprehensive credit reporting for large credit providers by the end of 2016
- make amendments to the Goods and Services Tax Act 1999 to recognise digital currencies such as bitcoin
- legitimise the current practices surrounding financial data aggregation and mandate standard open data APIs
- enable venture capital funds (registered as early stage venture capital limited partnerships) to invest in fintech; and
- review legislation surrounding crowdfunding and remove barriers to entry for private companies
“The more we see Australian tech companies going towards institutional capital and towards crowdfunding mechanisms, rather than just going through backdoor listings or early listings, is a good thing,” Cant said.
“We want to see more companies staying private for longer and so that’s a key part of our push.”
Cant confirmed the Fintech Australia committee are also now looking to appoint a chief executive officer to preside over its operations.
The founding committee in full reads as follows:
- President: Simon Cant, co-founder and managing director of Reinventure
- Vice President: Charlotte Petris, founder and chief executive of Timelio
- Secretary: David Ball, Australian director and country manager of Yodlee
- Treasurer: Nick Motteram, co-founder and managing director of On-Market BookBuilds
- Governing committee members: Alex Scandurra, chief executive of Stone and Chalk; Stuart Stoyan, founder and chief executive of MoneyPlace; and Jack Quigley, founder and chief executive of CrowdFundUp.
- Other foundation members: Acorns Grow Australia, Apex Capital Partners, Banjo Loans, Best Exchange Rates, Brighte, CheckVault, Clover, Coinjar, Equitise, Financial Ask, Fincast, FundX, H2 Ventures, Huffle, CapitalU, Macrovue, Manning Asset Management, MoneyBrilliant, Moula, RateSetter Australia, SelfWealth, SocietyOne, Spotcap, Stockspot, Thincats Australia, and Tyro Fintech Hub.