Australia opens its doors to UK fintech collaboration with mayoral visit

City of London Lord Mayor Charles Bowman with the participants in a Committee for Sydney roundtable held in Sydney on 12 February 2018

Fintech ties between Australia and the United Kingdom were strengthened last week when the London Lord Mayor Charles Bowman travelled down under with a fintech business delegation.

Mr Bowman met with various government and business leaders, regulators, and trade bodies in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. He discussed his plans for the City of London to be a home away home for Australian fintech startups.

Mr Bowman looks after the traditional London ‘square mile’, which is Europe’s pre-eminent financial and professional services centre and one of 32 boroughs in the greater London area.

As the first Lord Mayor in more than three years to be visiting Australia, Mr Bowman visited the Commonwealth Bank’s Innovation Hub and the Stone and Chalk fintech hub in Sydney, as well as YBF Ventures in Melbourne.

“There are many excellent opportunities for British companies to do business in Australia – not least in asset management, infrastructure finance, cyber and fintech,” Mr Bowman said.

“Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, it is more important than ever that we build our links with vibrant and growing markets across the world, and I know the UK’s relationship with Australia will go from strength-to-strength in the years to come.”

One of the key events last week saw the Lord Mayor take part in a roundtable discussion in Sydney on the topic, ‘Crossing the Fintech Bridge: Opportunities for Sydney and London’ that featured other representatives from the UK’s fintech sector.

Attended by a representative of FinTech Australia, the roundtable discussed the key issues that form part of the proposed “fintech bridge” agreement between Australia and the UK.

The Lord Mayor’s visit was marked by a number of important partnerships struck between fintech players across both ecosystems.

For instance, UK personal data platform digi.me (whose founder Julian Ranger was part of the Lord Mayor’s delegation) announced partnerships with two Stone & Chalk-based fintechs – mainframe microservicing platform Mainframe Cloud and behavioural planning tool Mafematica.

The digi.me/Mafematica deal will combine digi.me’s ability for users to securely add their personal finance data and store it safely in a personal cloud they own and control, with Mafematica’s powerful engine of investment choices, retirement forecasts and associated investment transactions.

The partnerships were facilitated by Jo Cooper from ID Exchange, a member of the Stone & Chalk fintech hub and digi.me’s exclusive Australian partner. ID Exchange was invited by the City of London to participate on the delegation due to the strategic Australian opportunities underway with digi.me

In addition, multi-currency foreign exchange money app Revolut partnering with the UK’s Global Processing Services (GPS) for payment issue processing ahead of the launch of a new app targeting the APAC region.

Mr Bowman welcomed the partnerships as a sign of the growing maturity of Australia’s fintech, particularly as more of our local fintech startups look to ply their trade abroad.

“While we are here to build new business connections between our two countries, some of our UK companies are already forging important relationships with the fintech  community in Australia,” he said.

“Partnerships like this go a long way to opening up data sharing possibilities in our sector, accelerating fintech development, particularly in the area of consumer-centric innovation.”

A report released by the Lord Mayor as part of the trip found that between 2016 and 2017 Australia and New Zealand imported over A$3 bn (£2.1bn) of financial, professional and business services from the UK, while Australia and New Zealand suppliers provided over A$2 bn (£1.4 bn) in services to the UK in the same period.

The figures tell a broader story when you look at the increasing international focus of our local fintech ecosystem.

Data from the 2017 EY Fintech Australia Census published in November found a growing swathe of Australian fintech startups are ready to go global or expand their existing overseas operations in the next 12 months. According to our survey, this number has increased from 38% of Australian FinTechs in the 2016 census to 54% in the 2017 census.

The 2017 Census found that the UK was the main target for expansion for our FinTech startups (at 49% of respondents), placing it ahead of Singapore (40%), United States (38%) and Hong Kong and Canada (22%). When it came to fintechs with an existing office overseas, the UK was also the second most popular location for our startups (comprising 17% of respondents).