End of Year CEO Address

Dear Community, 

When I wrote to you from lockdown last year, we were facing a rather uncertain future. The success of some of our most prominent members was masking the pain felt by the majority of the sector. We heard a lot of rhetoric regarding digital transformation, but were uncertain whether this would include our industry, or was simply lip service.

Fast forward 12 months, and while the majority of us are still under lockdown, conditions are looking significantly better. We’re in the box seat to drive Australia’s economic recovery as the country begins to vaccinate itself. Our relationship with Canberra is the best it’s ever been. The sector is making waves both at home and abroad. 

As a result, FinTech Australia has never been stronger. In the past year, we’ve seen a 33 per cent increase in our total pool of members and also a 44 per cent increase in the number of corporate partners supporting us. These include some of the world’s largest technology companies, who have taken keen interest in our fintech industry.

With these extra resources, we’ve been able to dedicate more of our focus into our content and partnership initiatives. We’ve expanded the remit of our blog and content, partnered with AuzBiz to create Australia’s first dedicated fintech TV segment, held over 10 roundtable discussions with industry and expanded our relationship with AusTrade. In addition, we have become Austrade’s lead partner on the FinTech Global Initiative where we have become the first ever industry association to embed a Global Engagement Manager into our team.

This is alongside our ongoing positive engagement with the Federal Government which has seen changes to JobKeeper last year to better include high-growth companies, positive changes to R&D and the introduction of draft legislation that will allow intermediaries to participate in the CDR rollout. This is on top of the countless submissions we have made to the government on behalf of members. They are not falling on deaf ears either. The latest interim report from the Senate Committee on FinTech and Regtech saw over 75% of our suggestions translated into recommendations from the committee. 

All of this has also led to a more meaningful, influential and robust events program. Intersekt — our flagship event — had over 800 attendees this year, smashing all prior records. We have similar hopes for The Finnies,  which we unfortunately have had to postpone until September due to the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

It has been an incredibly busy 12 month. So much has happened — too much to mention here. Which is why we have summarised it in a Year In Review infographic, which is attached. 

There is much to look forward to in the year ahead. Alongside most of our members, I’m particularly excited for The Finnies in a few months time and the EY FinTech Australia Census to measure our industry’s growth. COVID may continue to plague Australia, and lockdown the country. Given our track record over the past year, I am optimistic that we will overcome any future challenges it poses to our sector and continue to reach the new heights as an industry. 

Where are the opportunities for fintechs to collaborate with banks?

Several exciting fintech/bank collaborations have been announced recently, notably Waddle/CommBank, Cashrewards/ANZ, Slyp/NAB and both Biza.io and Adatree respectively with mutual banks getting on board with open banking.

With memories still fresh from our fantastic 2021 Intersekt Festival that we held over two full days in May at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, we reflect that a major theme for this year’s conference was, in fact, Fintech/Industry Collaboration.

Reporting on our event for The Australian Financial Review, financial services writer James Frost said:

“The secret to developing a lasting and successful relationship with a bank as a fintech is to keep it simple, start small and address security concerns right off the bat,” (AFR 20 May 2021) referring to comments made by David Washbrook from Look Who’s Charging, Emily Nicholas from NAB and Justin Brown from ANZ on a panel moderated by Jennifer Harrison from Reputation Edge.

David Washbrook also recounted a literal “elevator pitch” moment when one of the ANZ team he was working with happened to be in a lift with ANZ boss Shayne Elliott and showed him a prototype of the app!

David helpfully summarised his experience into three top tips:

  1. Solve a clear problem – don’t boil the ocean
  2. At least initially, consider a fixed price licence model to provide certainty around your costs as people and companies on the whole don’t like surprises, and
  3. Be persistent!

Sophie Guibaud from OpenPayd joined via video to share a vision of a very particular form of fintech/industry collaboration where fintech smarts are totally embedded into a customer journey thanks to Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) which she called “the AWS of finance.”

With the help of an aero-space analogy, Toby Norton-Smith from CommBank’s X15 Ventures explained the barriers encountered when an agile fintech (an X15) is harnessed to a legacy corporate (a B52).  He espoused that the key to success is thinking about compliance like a regulated entity.

Choosing a relationships analogy, with its clear stages of dating, courtship and commitment, Laura Ware from Visa helped Jacqui Colwell from Judo, Dom Pym from Up and Matt Baxby from Revolut to compare the banking single life (get your own licence) versus marriage (partner with a bank).

Anthony Baum from Tic:Toc, which partners with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank for fast online home loans, agreed that it’s vital to nurture the relationship side with the bank and not just showcase your product or customer proposition.

Some of the most intriguing insights on BaaS (which he thinks of as Backend-as-a-Service) were delivered by Kristofer Rogers from Mambu who exposed a schema of an unnamed bank’s home loan process to the scrutiny of the audience and asked:  “If there’s no obvious endpoint for an API, where does that leave fintech/bank collaboration?”

Kris pointed out the growing gap between a typical bank’s backend systems and the customer, which foreshadows a future-state where banks are the financial custodians and apps are the customer interface.  He commented that banks may have no choice but to collaborate with fintechs to execute an innovation strategy and marry their industrial strength with the best digital experience.

Both banks and fintechs know that big tech companies like Google and Apple, as well as social networks like Instagram and Snapchat, set the bar extremely high for customer experience.

And the pace of technological change is unrelenting.

The fintech ecosystem thrives on connecting the dots to deliver better solutions enabled via technology and delivered via collaboration.

The photo gallery from Intersekt bears witness to our amazing community in action, not just on stage sharing insights, but also building connections and establishing trust over coffee, drinks and dinner.

We’re looking forward to announcing the winner of “Best Partnership of the Year” at the Finnies.

We predict there will be many more exciting partnership announcements to come over the rest of 2021 as fintechs collaborate with each other, with banks, and increasingly also with other industries like retail and agriculture.

Watch this space.

 

Rebecca Schot-Guppy, CEO of FinTech Australia

Upcoming Events
  1. EY FinTech Australia Census 2021

    October 20 @ 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
  2. FinTech Connect: Share. Network. Grow.

    October 20 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Videos

Ep 2: Fintechs Acceleration of Growth Since COVID

Ep 1: The Evolution of Payments

Scaling Product Globally

Podcasts

Lee Hatton – Afterpay: FinTech Australia Podcast

Anthony Jones – Visa AUS/NZ

Tim Cameron – TransferWise