Change: Simplifying payment experiences worldwide 

Change Financial (Change) is a global fintech, providing payment solutions to banks and fintechs. Change partners with clients to provide simple, flexible, and fast to market payment solutions and services.

“What many banks and fintech firms need to do is be able to facilitate in person and digital payments for their customers. We provide all of that underlying technology,” said Alastair Wilkie, Chief Executive and Managing Director of Change Financial

Change, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, currently partners with over 146 clients across 41 countries, managing and processing over 16 million credit, debit, and prepaid cards worldwide. 

Change began life by providing a retail banking service via a mobile app and prepaid debit cards to the unbanked and under-banked in the U.S.

“The whole purpose was to give these under banked access to cash through ATMs but there was no credit facility. Ultimately, Change had over 300,000 customers who had decided to activate a card, and this gave them access to money through the banks,” Mr Wilkie said. 

By broadening the digital channels that customers could use to access its services to include Facebook and Google, Change grew rapidly to the point that by the end of 2019 it had been registered as a Mastercard payments processor. This made it the first card issuing and payment platform to complete this process in the previous five years and only the second fintech to achieve this status in the previous 20 years after Marqeta Inc. 

In 2020 Change took another leap forward with the acquisition of the Australia and New Zealand business assets of Wirecard whose clients included the big four Australian banks and major supermarket chains. 

Change has now emerged as a critical service provider that connects licensed banks with companies to provide integrated payment processing and card management services. It also offers performance and maintenance services to ensure business clients meet high standards.

Through its customisable payments platform Vertexon, Change helps businesses to issue cards, digital wallets, and BNPL systems; enables access to major card schemes like Mastercard, VISA and AMEX, and offers Apple, Google and Samsung pay services. 

Vertexon’s software as a service (SaaS) model connects existing licensed banks with modern application programming interface (API) driven businesses. Its payments technology provides the software infrastructure that enables clients to offer a sophisticated, quick to market, payments capability.

Change’s PaySim offers a full end-to-end payment testing solution to ensure clients meet the capability and performance expectations of their customers by simulating the full transaction lifecycle.

PaySim’s API enables clients to automate their testing functions and integrate it with their testing and quality assurance toolsets. 

Along the way to reaching this total product offering, Mr Wilkie said the company faced two key challenges. 

“The first was the strategic move to being a processor as well as being a payments platform service provider, effectively moving from prepaid to a debit and credit card processor. This took over two and half years to complete because of all the regulatory requirements,” he said. 

“The second major challenge was how to encapsulate all the evolving consumer payment needs like mobile access, virtual and digital cards, and the newly emerging payment options like Apple Pay Google Pay and Samsung pay. 

“This was all about creating a wider remit of how you pay which all required a major expansion in technology. This also had to be done without ending up costing clients a lot of money,” Mr Wilkie said. 

While Change developed a strategy to do this in 2020 which it estimated would take up to three years to implement, fortunately at the same time along came the Wirecard acquisition.

“I estimate that 70 to 80 percent of what we were trying to achieve within three years was available to us by making a strategic acquisition of Wirecard’s assets,” Mr Wilkie said.

“We also got access to a highly trained staff and a large revenue base generated from around the world. In all it brought forward our three-year strategic plan by about 18 months,” Mr Wilkie said. 

Looking ahead, Mr Wilkie said Change expected that by the end of the current financial year in June we will have a number of new customers operating on our platform. The company is also looking at all the new forms of digital finance payments like cryptocurrencies. 

“We are engaging with those opportunities, like Crypto and BNPL, that really help to improve the consumer interaction with payments,” Mr Wilkie said.

Change is building momentum in the Australian payments as a service (PaaS) space, leveraging its experience in the US market to become a truly global solutions provider.

UK’s Railsbank spurs embedded finance in Australia

Railsbank is a pioneer of embedded finance technology. The company helps clients to launch new financial products and simplify financial transactions. Railsbank does this by providing its specialist technology as an outsourced service.

Railsbank launched in Australia in March 2021. In this case study, Ben Smith, General Manager for Australia at Railsbank offers insights into the company’s progress in Australia, including:

  • the emergence of embedded finance and its future in Australia
  • how the company partnered with Australia’s first neo-bank, Volt
  • support from trade-promotion agencies including Austrade.

The new embedded-finance market

‘Embedded finance’ has gained global traction in recent years. The term describes how specific banking functions are now packaged as an outsourced service to companies that need to process financial transactions.

This outsourced service is called ‘banking-as-a-service’ (BaaS). New fintechs are attracted to BaaS providers because it helps them to compete effectively with established banks.

‘This [BaaS] helps new players to launch and scale-up financial products,’ says Smith. ‘By using our technology, they can stay focused on nurturing customer relationships and delivering a superior experience.’

Recent regulatory changes have encouraged the emergence of BaaS in Australia. And BaaS-enabled embedded finance is forecast to grow fast.

UK embedded finance co. partners with Australia’s first neobank

The company partnered with Australia’s first neobank, Volt, and launched as ‘Railspay’ in March 2021. Railspay quickly signed up a spate of new fintech customers.

‘With a partner like Volt, we are able to access local market knowledge,’ says Smith. ‘When added to our global experience, this enabled us to deliver a world-class product for the Australian market.’

Consumer Data Right laws to power open banking in Australia

Smith says that the landscape for fintechs in Australia has many similarities to the UK. He forecasts that open banking will take off in Australia following the recently enacted Consumer Data Right (CDR) legislation.

‘Australia is on our radar as a strategic market for strengthening our presence in the region,’ he says. ‘The financial services industry is changing dramatically across the globe. The change has been rather pronounced in the last couple of years, and this is just the beginning.’

A natural partner for London fintechs

Austrade’s fintech adviser in London, Andy Thompson, says the Australian market provides great opportunities for many UK fintechs. He cites companies such as RevolutGoCardlessWise, 10x and Truelayer. All have successfully launched new services in the Australian market.

‘Australia provides the opportunity for UK fintechs to test, launch and scale new products and services without the risk of an unfamiliar regulatory or legal system,’ says Thompson. ‘They encounter strong business and consumer demand in Australia — and an appetite for digital technology.’

The UK–Australia FinTech Bridge

One reason for fintech interest in Australia is a formal government-to-government agreement. This is the UK–Australian FinTech Bridge, which was signed in March 2018.

The bilateral agreement is designed to help the Australian and UK governments collaborate on fintech policy and regulation. It smooths the flow of fintech trade and investment between the UK and Australia. And it is designed to encourage new commercial partnerships.

‘The UK–Australia FinTech bridge helps to create a regulatory environment that is open to fintech innovation,’ says Thompson. ‘The bridge is not just international collaboration – it’s also about regulators partnering with industry to help pilot new services.’

Austrade helps UK fintech to navigate licensing

Smith reports that Austrade helped Railsbank to set up in Australia.

‘Austrade helped us understand the regulatory framework in Australia during our exploratory phase,’ says Smith. ‘They also introduced us to a number of legal advisors who helped us through license-application formalities.’

Smith says that this was a particularly tricky phase of his company’s growth journey. This was because of the chaos and restrictions triggered by the pandemic.

‘The on-the-ground support we got from Austrade was exceptional,’ he adds. ‘The UK Department of Investment and Trade worked collaboratively with Australian state governments, and that – too – was exceptional. They have supported our foray into Australia.’

For more information

To find out how Austrade can help global fintechs invest in Australia, please visit the Austrade fintech hub.

Australian payments fintech goes global, with Melbourne-based Verrency

Verrency is one of Australia’s fastest-growing fintechs. The company provides specialist payments technologies to banks as an add-in service. This enables banks to quickly include value-added services into digital-payments, including carbon offsets, donations and personalised customer-engagement options.

In this case study, Verrency CEO, Jeroen van Son, explains his company’s journey from Australian startup to global payments platform, including:

  • why payments tech is poised for growth
  • what makes Australian fintechs globally competitive
  • how Austrade helps global expansion

New fintech potential in banks’ legacy IT

Verrency was founded in 2016 to help financial institutions create smarter and more sophisticated payment options for customers. The challenge is that bank’s IT systems tend to be fairly rigid. This makes rapid innovation a real challenge, which in turn makes it harder to meet customer needs.

‘If an established financial institution can deploy a technology platform that delivers fintech products and services at speed and at scale, without replacing the current systems – that’s a gamechanger,’ says van Son.

Verrency devised a cloud-based payments solution. This made it one of the first fintechs to offer a scalable payment solution using the software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model.

‘Our breakthrough technology gave us our initial wins,’ says van Son. ‘And the confidence our clients placed in our secure and reliable service gave us the boost to go beyond our home shores.’

Verrency goes global after just two years

The startup grew quickly in international markets. In 2018 year, Verrency set up offices in the US, Singapore and the UK. The following year, Verrency signed the US fintech giant, FIS, as one of its clients.

And in 2021 Verrency joined Visa’s Fintech Connect programme. This means it can sell to banks via the Visa payments system.

Rapid growth shows how fast Australian fintech can globalise, according to van Son. It also highlights opportunities for Australian fintechs to partner with major global financial institutions.

‘Today, approximately 50% of our revenues come from international markets,’ he says. ‘Also, 90% of our institutional clients are located outside of Australia.’

Top talent and pro-innovation policies power Australian fintech

The Chief Executive says that overseas events provide great exposure for Australian fintech globally. They also generate ideas for fintech development. He cites the Australian Fintech Mission at the worldwide Money 20/20 event in Las Vegas, US.

‘Event exposure is a great way to get feedback from potential clients and service providers,’ says van Son. ‘This allows us to build on our Australian experience, understand local market dynamics and tweak our products in the context of those markets.’

He also cites two factors in Australia that help create world-class fintech: high quality talent and appropriate policies.

‘Despite being a small market, the rich Australian ecosystem gives us the confidence to compete on the biggest stage,’ he says.

Austrade contacts and the Landing Pads programs aid expansion

Austrade works closely with global trade missions and industry bodies – in Australia and overseas. Trade missions trigger a peer-to-peer exchange of ideas. And by taking part, Australian fintechs gain regulatory and legal insights into overseas jurisdictions before taking the plunge.

‘Verrency engaged with Austrade from the early days of our launch,’ says van Son. ‘Our participation in events organised by Austrade since 2017 has played a substantial role in our expansion strategy.’

Austrade residency programs have also helped. They are typically run in San Francisco, Singapore and Tel Aviv. These Landing Pad residencies promote networking, develop pitch skills, and provide introductions to venture capital in overseas markets.

‘Our participation in the San Francisco Landing Pad paved the way for our US launch in 2018,’ says van Son. ‘Despite being focused on the theme of cybersecurity, it helped us gain an understanding of what it takes to launch in large and mature markets abroad.’

For more information

Please visit the new Austrade fintech hub to find out more about Australian fintech

Member Spotlight: Nano

Nano: Reshaping the Australian mortgage market 

Digital lender Nano Digital Home Loans is an Australian fintech lender offering the country’s first end-to-end digital mortgage service.

Nano was founded by ex-Westpac executives Andrew Walker and Chris Lumby. We had the chance to speak with  Andrew Walker, Co-Founder and CEO of Nano Digital Home Loans, who said that Nano was born from the belief that technology and data should reshape the traditional home loan industry, making it simple, fast and fair. 

The financial service systems of today often have opaque pricing and complex processes. Many traditional lenders struggle to keep pace with technological developments and continue to use outdated systems, making the process long and tedious. Many consumers looking to buy or refinance a home are forced to fill out many forms and supply a range of paperwork such as payslips and bank statements. This often follows a lengthy waiting period for the application to be manually reviewed and processed before getting a response.

Impatient for change, the Nano team set out to reshape the home loan approval process using digital, data and design capabilities to create a borrowing experience that puts homeowners in control. Mr Walker noted that Nano has helped its customers save an average of $70,000 over the life of a loan.*

Nano offers an online application and loan decision-making service. Unlike other lenders, it uses automated property valuations, digital credit scores, automatic retrieval of banking transaction data, and digital verification of identity using biometrics. Mr Walker says that with this data and technology, Nano delivers home loan approvals in less than 10 minutes.

The digital experience isn’t limited to the home loan approval process. Nano offers its direct customers a range of everyday services via its app, for example, Nano Visa debit card and offset sub-account help homeowners with their finances and saving on interest repayments.

“When you refinance your home loan with Nano, we then provide one place to borrow, purchase, pay and tuck money away, all without fees,” Mr Walker said. 

“What we have done is pulled the functionality of traditional banking apart and re-bundled it innovatively to put the mortgage at the centre of it,” he said.

One of Nano’s biggest challenges to date has been scaling the business up during the COVID pandemic and the lockdowns which hit its home state of NSW. NSW went into COVID lockdown a week before Nano launched its first product. Despite this, the team has grown over 50% over the last few months, with half of the team not having met face to face.

Andrew Walker said: “The challenge has really been keeping the culture and organisation aligned, as we scale – virtually. As a result, we’ve had to completely relook at our onboarding, internal communications, and practices, to ensure we’re all staying united in working to the same common goal, as we scale.”

In just three months from its public launch, Nano saw its loan book grow to over $200 million in approved loans, with more than 80% of demand coming from customers of one of the traditional banks.

Mr Walker was proud to note that, in September this year, Nano was awarded an innovation patent for its proprietary loan application and decision-making technology. The Innovation Patent for the ‘Automated Real-Time Digital Mortgage Application and Decisioning Engine’ granted by the Australian Patents Office confirmed the uniqueness of Nano’s platform and recognised the innovative nature of its data-driven technology.

Nano’s next step is to extend the reach of its platform through a series of strategic partnerships.

This month Nano announced a major agreement with US computer giant Oracle. “By combining Nano’s innovative, data-driven credit-onboarding with Oracle’s trusted and proven banking platform, partner banks are bringing the scale and experience of the world’s leading banking platform providers to the digital mortgage revolution,” says Mr Walker. 

“We’re really excited about this partnership. It gives us scale, credibility, horsepower and an accelerated pathway into a global market which is extremely valuable for a company at our stage.”

“Digital is the new frontline of competition across the industry. Those that cannot meet the new digital service standard will face a Blockbuster moment,” Mr Walker concluded. 

* $70,475 is the average interest savings Nano customers have saved over the life of their loan by switching to Nano as at 24 Aug-21.

Openpay: Exporting Australian payments fintech to the UK & US

Openpay is an Australian fintech offering ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) and business-to-business (B2B) payments services. The company began operating in Australia and New Zealand in 2013 and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in 2019. It has now launched in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US).

In this case study, Openpay’s Group Chief Marketing Officer, Georgina Whalley takes us through the company’s export journey and future plans, including:

  1. the evolution of ‘buy now, pay later’ services in Australia
  2. how Austrade has helped Openpay’s global expansion
  3. the role of the UK-Australia FinTech Hub.

Fertile ground for fintech innovation

According to Whalley, the current model for BNPL financing was pioneered in Australia. Melbourne-based investment company, Meydan Group combined technology and digital banking to create a new payments service in 2013. The business spin-off eventually became Openpay.

‘Australians are tech-savvy consumers who are open to modern ways of conducting traditional transactions,’ says Whalley. ‘This makes Australia fertile ground for fintech companies like Openpay.’

Differentiation is key to success in the BNPL market

Demand for BNPL is surging – especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began. To succeed, Openpay focuses on niche industries to deliver growth.

‘Openpay has a strongly differentiated BNPL offering, which we call ‘buy now, pay smarter (BNPS),’ says Whalley. ‘We cater to demand in specific segments such as healthcare, education and home improvement.

‘Our idea is to enable access to major life purchases while minimising the financial risks for our customers’.

Austrade supports high growth-potential businesses

Openpay was selected by Austrade to participate in a program for high growth tech exporters in late 2020.

‘The Austrade program was a key milestone in our journey,’ says Whalley. ‘Access to Austrade’s network gave us a foothold within the larger fintech ecosystem.’

‘Austrade is a great partner for Australian businesses which are innovative and offer a ground-breaking proposition,’ she adds. ‘Program support from the Australian Government is a vote of confidence in high growth-potential startups.’

Austrade opens doors for overseas expansion

Openpay has participated in a number of events organised by Austrade since 2019. These events helped to open doors in overseas markets.

One event was part of the ‘UK-Australia FinTech Bridge’ collaboration. This took place in London earlier in early 2021. It focussed on the role of fintechs in the post-COVID-19 recovery. It helped Openpay understand changing regulation in the UK finance market.

‘Local regulations go a long way in informing our offerings and go-to-market strategies,’ says Whalley.

‘Setting up operations in an overseas market can be an uphill task for start-ups, particularly in mature and greenfield markets,’ she adds ‘We’re glad to have Austrade as a trusted and reliable ally because every new market we enter is a huge leap forward for us.’


About Austrade

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s international trade promotion and investment attraction agency.

We deliver quality trade and investment services to businesses to grow Australia’s prosperity. We do this by generating and providing market information and insights, promoting Australian capability, and facilitating connections through our extensive global network.

To discover how we can help you and your business, visit austrade.gov.au or contact us on 13 28 78 (within Australia).

Regtech startup LAB Group expands into global markets

LAB Group is an Australian regtech (regulation technology) startup that provides compliance services to the financial services industry.

The company has adopted a global expansion strategy in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. It set up its first European office in 2020 and has doubled its workforce in the first six months of 2021.

In this case study, Nick Boudrie, CEO, LAB Group explains how the company has evolved, including:

  • how his company navigates the regulatory environment
  • the challenges and opportunities in regtech
  • the role Austrade played in the company’s expansion strategy.

Australia is a growing hub for regtech expertise

Regulatory compliance is a critical aspect of risk management in the finance industry. It is also highly complex. For example, disclosure and privacy rules pull banks in opposite directions.

‘Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) legislation require disclosures and audit trails,’ says Boudrie. ‘Meanwhile data privacy laws mean that finance companies must adhere to strict information-security rules.’

LAB Group helps finance companies to navigate this difficult path. The company’s cloud-based services helps clients to manage customer enrolments so the process complies with finance regulations. This includes the use of biometric verification.

The challenges of creating regtech exports

According to Boudrie, creating an exportable regtech product is a constant challenge.

‘The regtech domain is unique,’ says Boudrie. ‘On the one hand it requires global consistencies and compatibility. On the other hand, regtech has to adhere to local laws and practices.

‘We have created standardised workflows and configurations for these jurisdictions, as well as industry verticals to minimise customisation requirements and speed up implementations. We also support them through the technology adoption process as their use of the platform expands, and as it evolves with ongoing regulatory and technological changes.’

Role of Austrade in overseas expansion

Austrade has worked with LAB Group to help them grow in overseas markets. For example, Austrade invited LAB Group to join the Australian FinTech Mission at key trade events.

Two of these events were ‘Money 20/20’ in Singapore in 2019 and the Paris FinTech Forum 2020. These events provided opportunities to network and make introductions. This enabled executives to meet potential partners and local regulators.

Boudrie says that participation in trade missions has helped his company grasp the subtleties of the regtech landscape in different markets. Attendance also helped LAB Group make key decisions about product roadmaps and market entry in different jurisdictions.

‘Austrade helped us to set up some of our global operations, and to structure them’, he says. ‘They also helped with product promotion and distribution.’

Made in Australia, for the world

LAB Group now has an impressive client list across the region. This includes customers in New Zealand and Japan. The company raised $4 million from Costa Asset Management in March 2021. It will use the capital to expand into new markets in Europe and Asia.

‘Regtech is well established in Australia, but we lag behind other countries when it comes to raising funds,’ says Boudrie. ‘A part of that is due to the lack of exposure and experience. To that extent, Austrade has been a valuable partner.’

‘Our Australian experience has helped us develop a robust suite of solutions,’ he adds. ‘To expand, however, we need to understand specific markets. With new capital, we look forward to consolidating our offerings and expanding our global footprint.’


About Austrade

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s international trade promotion and investment attraction agency.

We deliver quality trade and investment services to businesses to grow Australia’s prosperity. We do this by generating and providing market information and insights, promoting Australian capability, and facilitating connections through our extensive global network.

To discover how we can help you and your business, visit austrade.gov.au or contact us on 13 28 78 (within Australia).

 

UK’s biggest fintech uses Australia as template for global growth

Revolut is a startup superstar. The London-based fintech was founded in 2015 and is now worth US$33 billion.

The company launched in Australia in mid-2019 as part of its wider global expansion strategy. In this case study, the CEO of Revolut Australia, Matt Baxby describes Revolut’s journey down under, including:

– why Revolut chose Australia as a pilot for international expansion
– the emerging fintech landscape and opportunities in Australia
– how Austrade helped Revolut enter and launch in Australia.

Australia is a great learning ground for global fintechs

Revolut has built a financial super-app that helps customers manage multiple areas of personal finance in one place. By mid-2021, Revolut had gained 16 million customers and had become the UK’s most valuable fintech.

Baxby says that consumer appetite for digital technology makes Australia a great place to pilot and develop a fintech business. Additionally, he points out that Australia’s regulatory environment is very encouraging. It is open to fintech innovation, he says.

‘It took us 9 months to obtain an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL),’ says Baxby. ‘But during the application process we were permitted to use our UK e-money licence as part of a temporary licence exemption.’

The exemption enabled Revolut to beta test their product in Australia. It also enabled Revolut to build and tweak features to meet the needs of our Australian users before the official launch.

‘Australia has a familiar regulatory regime and high quality fintech talent. This makes Australia an attractive market for Revolut’s expansion outside of Europe.’

COVID-19 has accelerated the shift towards digital banking

The CEO observes that COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on consumers’ habits and behaviours. It has accelerated the shift towards digital banking. He says this trend exists in Australia as much as it does elsewhere.

‘An uncertain economic environment has made people more aware of their financial security,’ he says. ‘As an offshoot, this has led to a spike in demand for innovative financial products such as commodities and cryptocurrencies.’

‘This diversification is happening at the same time as a rapid digitisation of Australians’ lives,’ he adds. ‘This leads us to believe that Australians want to manage financial transactions in one place.’

Austrade helps fintechs make contact with stakeholders and government agencies

Since 2017, Austrade has played a role in helping Revolut to launch in Australia. Austrade advisers introduced Revolut to key stakeholders in the Department of Treasury, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Open Banking Review, as well as FinTech Australia.

All these contacts proved useful for the global fintech as it scoped the local market for entry.

‘Introductions made by Austrade have helped us to navigate the local regulatory and compliance environments,’ says Baxby. ‘This has been a key enabling factor for us. We had to work through the pandemic to customise and build Revolut for its final launch in Australia.’

Australia offers a thriving ecosystem for fintechs

Austrade also assisted Revolut by providing early insights into the Australian market.

‘Initiatives such as the UK–Australia Fintech Bridge allow us to make connections across the ecosystem,’ says Baxby. ‘This helped us get a better understanding of the market prior to launch.’

Austrade also kept Revolut informed about available government grants and programmes. These proved helpful as Revolut took its initial steps into the Australian market.

‘We believe the resilience and growth shown by fintechs in Australia during such challenging times highlights the maturity of the industry in Australia,’ he says. ‘In many ways, it is testament to the efforts of a supportive ecosystem. This bodes well for the future of fintech in Australia.’

Australia is a gateway to fintech markets in Asia-Pacific

Revolut now has a presence in over 35 countries and processes over 150 million transactions per month. It is currently building teams for major markets across the Asia-Pacific region.

‘As our first foray outside of Europe, Australia has been a key market – including as a testing ground for informing our global expansion strategy,’ says Baxby. ‘Australia can also serve as a gateway to markets in the region because of its location and economic ties’.

Baxby says that Revolut gained valuable insights from localising its globally scalable product to meet Australia’s high regulatory standards. Meeting high customer expectations has also been instructive. He says the launch experience in Australia will likely prove helpful elsewhere.

‘We are encouraged by the response we received to our initial public launch,’ says Baxby. ‘This gives us the confidence to use our Australian market entry approach as a template for global growth.’

Revolut is now looking to expand its footprint in the region, including launching operations in India, South Korea and the Philippines.


About Austrade

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s international trade promotion and investment attraction agency.

We deliver quality trade and investment services to businesses to grow Australia’s prosperity. We do this by generating and providing market information and insights, promoting Australian capability, and facilitating connections through our extensive global network.

To discover how we can help you and your business, visit austrade.gov.au or contact us on 13 28 78 (within Australia).


About FinTech Australia

FinTech Australia is a member-driven organisation that is building an ecosystem of Australian fintechs to advance the global economy and culture. We are here to build a strong community, foster connections while supporting innovation and regulation that our members require. Above all else, we are here to be the voice of the Australian fintech community

Disclaimer 
Whereas every effort has been made to ensure the information given in this document is accurate, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission does not provide warranty or accept liability for any loss arising from reliance on such information. 
©Commonwealth of Australia 2021

FinTech Australia Spotlight: Nium

Travelex joins hands with Nium to boost digital remittances across the Asia Pacific

In this edition of Member Spotlight, we had a chance to talk to Michael Minassian of Nium and Darren Brown of Travelex, about their partnership. 

Michael Minassian – ANZ Regional Head of Consumer Business at Nium

 

Meet the companies

Nium

Nium is a financial services platform that enables companies around the world to unlock new revenue opportunities and improve cash flow economics. Nium’s platform allows banks, payment providers, travel companies, and other businesses to collect and disburse funds in local currencies to over 100 countries, plus issue physical and virtual cards globally. Today, Nium serves over 130 million customers and enables platforms to provide access to financial services to over 3 billion people across the world.

Travelex

Founded in 1976, Travelex is a specialist provider of foreign exchange. Travelex operates across the entire value chain of the retail foreign exchange industry in over 20 countries. The Group has developed a growing network of over 900 ATMs and 1,100 stores at both on-airport and off-airport locations around the world and has also built the leading online and mobile foreign exchange platform. It also processes and delivers foreign currency orders for major banks, travel agencies and hotels.

 

The partnership

The partnership allowed Nium to launch a new digital remittance offering in the Asia Pacific region, known as Travelex International Money Transfer, which leverages Nium’s real-time payment technology and money transfer rails to extend digital remittances to Travelex users across the region. 

In other words, Travelex provides its large existing consumer base with access to Nium’s Remittance-as-a-Service (RaaS) solution. Through this partnership, Travelex users will now be able to remit money to more than 50 countries globally. Going forward, the service is planned to be extended to other countries across the region in the coming months.

“At Nium, we understand how difficult it is for a company to introduce remittance or money transfer services at scale, and we are excited that Travelex has selected Nium to be their trusted partner for this journey,” said Michael Minassian, Regional Head of Nium’s Consumer and SME Business.

The partnership between the two companies has boosted digital remittance in the Asia Pacific region.

“Travelex is delighted to team up with Nium to offer remittance services. Following a rigorous selection process, we were impressed with their holistic solution which encompassed the technology framework and the expertise of the team. In today’s competitive payments environment, new technology makes a huge difference in delivering the best customer experience,” – Darren Brown, Managing Director, Travelex Australia and New Zealand.

 

How RaaS can enable businesses to offer remittance services

Nium’s RaaS solution allows businesses to become providers of payment solutions and offer remittance services on their own digital platforms. Through such a collaboration, businesses that are otherwise not payment providers or lack the technological or regulatory portfolio to facilitate cross-border payments, can launch an international remittance service. 

The RaaS solution provides businesses with the technology stack and the network of regulatory licenses necessary to support international fund transfers. Through this ‘plug and play’ model, businesses can go live within weeks, with the ability to customise their front end. Nium says that businesses are set to gain new revenue streams by offering digital remittance solutions to their customers globally.

“Nium’s mission is to create a global fintech infrastructure that can enable banks, financial institutions and other fintech companies to launch and scale innovative digital financial services without the complexity, time and cost previously required to do so. We look forward to working closely with Travelex to offer a robust digital remittance offering to their customers,” said Michael Minassian, Regional Head of Nium’s Consumer and SME Business.

FinTech Australia Spotlight: Sniip

‘Competition or Collaboration?’ – the story of a start-up, Sniip

Sniip is one of the many Australian fintech success stories – from its start, as a small company in Brisbane, to now securing a partnership to work hand-in-hand with a huge billing company, BPAY. 

We spoke with Damien Vasta, Managing Director of Sniip – who came up with the idea for Sniiip after experiencing clunky mobile payments. This caused him to realise the current experience is not good enough. Damien asked:

  1. Why do customers have to pay a bill the way that the bank tells them to do it or the way the biller tells them to do it? Why can’t there be a code to scan or a push notification into an app where customer bills are available to store, manage and pay instead of through an email or in the post?; 
  2. Why can’t the customer decide how they want to pay their bills and how they want to receive a bill? – Why is a customer required to set-up their own manual reminders just to remember to pay a bill?; and finally,
  3. Why can’t customers schedule their payments for the due date and then file the bill without ever having to worry about it again?

Sniip aimed to solve a key problem – “How do you turn a static bill into a point of payment?” – Well, Sniip suggests the answer is fairly straightforward. Using a QR code enables customers to make a fast payment on a mobile using a secure digital wallet (you can load your credit and debit cards onto Sniip in advance). As a result, Sniip takes a static medium, for example, a household bill, and turns it into a dynamic transaction via instantaneous mobile payment.

Damien mentioned that Sniip started as a mobile-commerce, or ‘m-commerce’, service for the retail sector. He realised that QR codes could be better utilised to enable more convenient payments by mobile on print advertising. Consumers enjoy using QR Codes due to their quick response time and ease-of-use. After 2020, and the wide-spread use of the QR Code for COVID-19, it is clear that he was right. 

Sniip then realised he could solve a bigger problem than retail – making bill payments much easier. But in order to do that, Sniip faced a range of challenges – ultimately, hitting a wall with billers who didn’t think they had a problem to solve. BPay was too big of a competitor and Sniip was a small start-up – it wasn’t a fair competition. The big players in billing, namely the banks,  controlled the payment process. Consequently, Sniip was only able to sign up four direct billers. This meant that the company was left with a poor value proposition for bill-payers. Damien knew that the product would only work if it became widespread, which wouldn’t be possible under the current ecosystem dominated by financial institutions such as the major banks and BPAY.

Sniip pivoted their offering. Instead, Damien focused on creating a better BPAY experience. He saw that BPay could be an opportunity for collaboration, rather than competition. Although people use BPAY day-to-day through their banks, there are a range of limitations on how customers access BPAY that Damien sought to resolve. Sniip saw this as an opportunity to go out to the modern consumer who does not expect such restrictions and almost now demands flexibility, including  the ability to switch between banks, cards, use BNPL or cryptocurrency and more services not being offered through the banks or  billers. 

Sniip is now a Payer Institution Member (PIM) with BPAY and also has a strategic partnership  with American Express (AMEX)   as it has delivered the huge BPAY biller network to AMEX cardholders. Through Sniip, AMEX is able to offer their customer base access to more than 60,000 billers across Australia, meaning extra flexibility, convenience and time-saving for customers in terms of managing their bills. Consequently, Sniip unlocked an exciting customer-centric payment experience.

 

A list of bills on your phone presented via Sniip and paying a bill with Sniip

 

Looking ahead, Damien exclaimed that BPAY has been critical to the company’s recent growth, but it is just the beginning. Sniip has invested heavily in it’s tech capability for the last three years and this commitment will soon see payment capability extend to all SME billers. Damien envisioned that Sniip will be the default, bank-agnostic bill payment option for mobile-centric customers across Australia.

As a clear success story, what does Damien recommend to new start-up founders hoping to experience a similar trajectory to Sniip? Well – Sniip has been seven years in the making and is only now just seeing the results of perseverance and hard work. In his experience, persistence is everything, and he noted that there are always ways around obstacles. Pivoting is important, but you must do so while staying true to your vision. Damien ended our conversation by outlining his number-one key learning: “At the end of the day, make sure that whatever your business is doing, you are always solving a problem; this is the absolute key to growth and success.” 

 

Sniip and Amex

FinTech Australia Spotlight: Envestnet | Yodlee

Open Banking

Open banking initiatives are live, in progress, or under consideration in most major economies around the globe. Australia is one of the global leaders in the space with its Consumer Data Right (CDR), passed in August 2019, that enables secure sharing of customer banking information with major benefits for FinTechs and consumers alike. 

At its core, open banking is about secure and transparent access to consumer-permissioned financial data. The CDR enables Australians to easily share their data with organisations accredited by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), known as Accredited Data Recipients. This exciting new regime means accredited organisations, including many FinTechs and banks, have more opportunities to create, collaborate on, and deliver products to consumers – like personal financial management products, accounting tools, payment apps, and consumer lending products that utilise real-time data. 

Envestnet | Yodlee is one of the companies that have received CDR accreditation in Australia. The company uses data aggregation and analytics platform to receive consumer-permissioned financial data via the CDR to deliver personalised advice, products, and services. 

Being accredited under the CDR enables Envestnet | Yodlee to act as an intermediary by delivering consumer’s financial data to Australia’s banks and FinTechs. The company’s ecosystem provides responsible data access to FinTechs and financial institutions through their open banking platform.

 

Credit

Today’s credit evaluation process is largely manual and subject to fraud. In response, Envestnet | Yodlee recently launched the Credit Accelerator to attempt to address these issues. The Credit Accelerator aggregates applicant data from multiple financial institutions and compiles the data into a financial report to overview a consumer’s financial position.

An example of the Credit Accelerator Customer Summary Sheet by Envestnet | Yodlee

We spoke with Envestnet | Yodlee Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Tim Poskitt, who said that with the government proposing to remove responsible lending obligations (RLOs) to fuel economic growth in the wake of COVID-19, the need to use technology and data to help make accurate and insightful decisions has never been higher. He went on to note that the Credit Accelerator gives considerable power to both financial service providers and consumers, by using real-time CDR data to provide accurate reports.

 

Tim Poskitt, Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand at Envestnet | Yodlee

Poskitt points out that Australia and New Zealand are two markets that recognise the value of more personal financial intelligence. “I know first-hand that both countries are exceptionally welcoming towards new thinking and technology,” Poskitt says. “They offer huge opportunities for innovation in the financial space.”

Ultimately, the Credit Accelerator seeks to build upon Australian and New Zealand consumer’s keenness to take hold of their personal finance by giving consumers more ways to access their finances at a glance.

 

 

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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