Australian payments industry in world spotlight after big win

Australia’s credentials as an international hotspot for innovative payments solutions has been boosted by the selection of a Melbourne-based company as the joint winner of an industry challenge held by the world’s leading financial messaging provider.

Two Australian payments companies (Assembly Payments and CurrencyVue) were among the five finalists in the SWIFT global gpi industry challenge, held in Singapore on 13-14.

Assembly Payments was declared one of two winners from the event and will now work with banks over the next three months to further enhance cross-border payments, leveraging on SWIFT’s new global payments innovation (gpi) service.

It will also receive up to 100,000 EUR to further develop its innovative concepts and will participate in Sibos, SWIFT’s annual financial services event to be held in Toronto in October.

FinTech Australia CEO Danielle Szetho said the great outcome for Australia at the SWIFT challenge aligned with a July 2017 report from KPMG and the Committee for Sydney which found that payments was an area where Australia had the potential to “lead the world”.

The report came to this conclusion because “Australian consumers are early adopters of mobile technology, with very high usage of contactless payments…coupled with the advanced nature of digital/mobile offerings from established banks and payments providers.”

It also pointed to the potential innovation benefits of the upcoming launch of an Australian near real-time payments platform – the New Payments Platform – in early 2018.

This report found that Australia had 128 payments and digital currency companies – more than any other fintech sub-sector. The next highest category was lending (80 companies) and wealthtech (77 companies).

“We have some amazing payments companies in Australia developing exciting new products, ranging from waterproof wearable payment technology right through to paying bills or making cross-border payments using blockchain,” Ms Szetho said.

“The fact that Australia had more finalists than any other country, and took out one of the two winner spots, at this global industry challenge is testament to the strength of our local payments industry.”

Other recent news in the Australian payments industry includes:

  • Sydney-based FlashFX announced this month that it is the first Australian company to receive a financial services licence to transfer money internationally using blockchain technology.
  • Sydney-based INAMO has developed waterproof contactless payment wearables (including keychains or wristbands) which are perfectly suited to an outdoor lifestyle. In May, it announced a $1.5 million seed funding round by Club Investible.
  • In May, Melbourne-based cross-border payments company Airwallex announced the $US 13 million Series A capital raise from Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital China and global card network Mastercard. Airwallex also has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and London.
  • Brisbane-based Living Room of Satoshi has helped Australians pay over $10 million of everyday household bills with bitcoin since the company launched in 2014.
  • Afterpay offers customers a “buy now, receive now, pay later” service and was named as Australia’s FinTech Organisation of the Year in May 2017. Afterpay recently celebrated a major milestone reaching one million customers and the company marked the occasion with Afterpay Day, an exclusive sales event that broke retail trade records achieving $10 million in sales in 24 hours.
  • Sydney-based payments company zipMoney announced in August 2017 it had signed a $40 million strategic equity investment with one of Australia’s “big four” banks, Westpac. In May, zipMoney announced a $260 million credit line led by another major bank, the National Australia Bank – said to be the largest debt facility of its type in Australia.

Australia’s payment industry is supported by the fact it has the strongest take-up of contactless card payments of any country in the world, which indicates a strong appetite for financial technology.

In addition, the EY FinTech Adoption Index released in June found that Australia has among the best fintech market penetration in the world, ahead of other advanced markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States.

Assembly is a fully managed payments platform for online marketplaces and the sharing economy. The company started four years ago with the mission of enabling people to create extraordinary customer experiences and unlock new business models with payments.

Simon Jones, CTO & Co-founder of Assembly Payments said: “We are very pleased to have had such a strong reaction to our proposed solution, which will greatly enhance the cross-border payments experience. And we look forward to working further with SWIFT and others at Sibos and beyond.”

Darren McMurtrie and Simon Jones, co-founders of Assembly Payments, at the SWIFT industry challenge at Singapore in mid-September