Fintech firms from across Australia have welcomed a new agreement between the Australian and UK Governments, stating that they are keen to use it as a platform to expand overseas and drive best practice innovation and industry growth.
Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison and the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond overnight signed the UK-Australia FinTech Bridge.
The bridge agreement outlines how governments, regulators, trade promotion agencies and industry bodies from the two countries will work together to drive fintech growth.
FinTech Australia chair Stuart Stoyan said the UK market was critically important to the Australian fintech industry.
“Last year’s EY FinTech Australia Census found that the UK was the number one target market for future international expansion among Australian fintechs,” Mr Stoyan said.
“As such, we welcome the fact the bridge states that Australian and UK regulators will explore opportunities to enable quicker licensing processing for inbound innovative businesses, if these businesses are already licensed in the other jurisdiction.
“This is a big potential step forward from the current arrangement, whereby the regulators are largely simply referring businesses to each other, and could help Australian businesses get far quicker access to the UK market.”
“We are also particularly excited about the proposal for Australian and UK financial services regulators to work together to live-test innovative regulations across both markets.
“We believe this could help give Australia and the UK speedy ‘straight off the satellite’ access to the latest innovative regulatory ideas, before the rest of the world.”
Separately, Mr Stoyan said there was strong evidence that UK-based fintech companies were increasingly choosing Australia as the location for their headquarters to serve the broader Asia-Pacific region.
“This is a trend we would like to see continue and potentially strengthened through greater co-ordination of trade promotion via this agreement,” he said.
This media release contains supportive comments about the agreement from nearly 30 FinTech Australia members. Most of these members state that they want to use the agreement to help with their international expansion plans.
Anthony Millet, CEO of consumer-focused fractional property investment platform BRICKXsaid: “This is a fantastic advancement for Australian fintechs. Culturally there are many similarities with the UK, which makes the best of our industry more easily exportable to notable foreign territories.
“Specifically to BRICKX, the London housing market has many affordability issues that are similar to Australia’s capital cities, and such agreements have an impact on us considering our options including timing and location for international expansion.”
Stuart Grover, CEO of Look Who’s Charging (an award winning fintech firm that intelligently matches bank statement transactions to rich details on the underlying merchant), said: “Look Who’s Charging is a world first solution which has been tried and tested in Australia. 2018 is a year of expansion for Look Who’s Charging and the UK is where we are looking to setup our next operation. Having access to the bridge will help to expedite our growth into the UK and the wider European markets.”
Sophie Gerber, Director of trade reporting services provider TRAction Fintech said: “We have already had a successful expansion to the UK. We have a number of financial services clients that are looking to expand to the UK.
“Similarly we have clients in the UK who are looking to come to Australia. I anticipate this will be a very useful development for companies operating in both countries looking to expand to sympathetic jurisdictions, especially so now that the Brexit deal seems to be taking shape.”
“This bridge agreement will hopefully lead to concrete outcomes that will not only make the go/no-go decisions associated with international expansion clearer, but more importantly, increase the speed to market. We applaud the UK and Australian Governments for this important agreement.”
Martin Davidson, Global Director, CEO and cofounder of Blockchain Centre, a not for profit blockchain knowledge hub focusing on education, coworking and community events said: “This fintech bridge agreement between Australia and the UK comes at just the right time for us as we look to expand globally to 20 centres by the end of 2018, adding to our existing three licensed international Blockchain Centres. Being Australia’s leading globally licensed coworking, education and incubator space, being able to efficiently export our intellectual property to assist with the development of the rapidly expanding blockchain community and ecosystem is paramount”.
Katryna Dow, Founder and CEO of the personal data platform Meeco said: “This is a great initiative to support the acceleration of open banking, and the best practices emerging in Europe with respect to consent and data privacy.
“As an Australian company, Meeco is recognised as a global pioneer and award winner for personal data and consent innovation across financial services. We established a London office in early 2016, so this announcement is a very welcomed opportunity to better connect our activities between Australia and the United Kingdom”.
Tim Dean, CEO of global relationship lending platform Credi.com said: “Credi already serves users in 23 countries as it rolls out its platform globally. We anticipate the establishment of this bridge will make entering the UK easier and will help make the UK our first ‘in country’ destination.”
Trevor Townsend, CEO of Startupbootcamp Australia said: “Given that Startupbootcamp’s global headquarters are in London, we believe the UK-Australia FinTech bridge will help to extend our fintech innovation network to Melbourne and provide bi-lateral and more seamless conditions for the burgeoning fintech and Insurtech industries to expand into this market.
“It will also allow local startups to reach our international network. Startupbootcamp connects innovators to growth opportunities around the globe and the fintech bridge will ultimately stimulate the local economy and job creation.”
David Price, International Business Development Manager of retirement savings and income forecasting platform Mafematica said: “We have a strong interest in the UK retirement savings market, as it goes through a time of transformation and change. It’s clear to us that retirement savers in the UK have a need for advanced online resources to help them predict and tracking expected retirement income flows and drawdown modelling.
“We’re hopeful that this fintech bridge agreement will help Mafematica to adapt and develop its existing advanced online income forecasting and portfolio optimisation tool, to quickly address an unmet need in the UK.”
Asher Tan, and CEO and co-founder of bitcoin wallet and exchange CoinJar, said: “As a company started out of Australia, we have looked to the UK as a base to greater understand the fintech landscape beyond Australian borders.”
“In this rapidly evolving space of technology, the fintech bridge will be a boon for distributed ledger and digital currency companies to have clearer insight into cross-border regulation and governance. This has potential to be a key competitive advantage for players in both regions and set precedents on a global scale.”
John Pellew, CEO of Othera, a blockchain development company that provides loan origination and auto-securitisation technology to increase profitability for both lenders and investors, said: “I am pleased to see that one of the first topics identified for discussion is blockchain and digital assets. As Othera leverages blockchain technology for creation of digital fixed-income assets, I understand that this is a complex area for policy makers, and so the fact that blockchain is being prioritised as part of this fintech bridge agreement personally instills greater confidence that it’s the real deal, and will help move us towards greater clarity and affirmative action across the full spectrum of issues impacting the growth of the fintech sector”.
“As Othera expands into the UK, I believe the fintech bridge will really help facilitate ongoing dialogue and mutual disclosure of policy and regulatory compliance within companies operating across Australia and the UK, thereby increasing transparency and reducing perceived business risk for our clients”.
David Link, Founder and CEO of innovative payments platform provider Verrency, said: “Verrency opened our London office last year in Level39, and as we look to expand significantly in the coming year into the UK, the fintech bridge will be very useful as we move ahead. We strongly welcome this announcement and look forward to being a strong and supportive component of this bridge between the UK and Australia.”
Martin McCann, CEO of business lending software platform Trade Ledger said: “Trade Ledger is in the process of setting up a UK office, launching on 1 June. This agreement is immensely helpful in getting across the various regulatory and market related considerations to be successful in the UK.”
“We are particularly interested in leveraging the bridge to accelerate our plans to participate in the new global regulatory sandbox, making our SME loan innovations usable by banks.”
Robin Sands, CEO of invoice delivery startup Link4, said: “We’re expanding our eInvoicing solution to the UK market allowing SMEs the opportunity to streamline how they invoice so they can benefit when eInvoicing is mandated in November 2018. This UK-Australia bridge is an excellent opportunity to build strong relationships in both fintech markets and will make it easier for us to support UK businesses with processing invoices more efficiently.”
Jonny Wilkinson, Managing Director of leading equity crowdfunding platform Equitise, said: “As the leading market in equity crowdfunding globally and with the open stance the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority have taken to regulating, we believe there is a huge opportunity to formalise the relationship and do more deals with our British cousins along with utilising London as a foothold for European expansion opportunities.”
Dilip Sankarreddy, founder of the robo-advice firm QuietGrowth, said: “We welcome the fintech bridge agreement. Our firm has been attempting to expand our business to the UK, and we have already incorporated a UK subsidiary. This development will add significantly to the support we have got so far from UK Trade & Investment and London & Partners.”
Joanne Cooper, Founder and CEO of Privacy and Consent firm ID Exchange said: “Bridging the collaboration with our UK partner digi.me will accelerate data portability opportunities via consumer centric innovation, stimulating both our respective economies”.
Daniel Wessels, CEO of Jacaranda Finance, an artificial intelligence finance company focused on shaping the future of personal finance said: “I recently spent a week collaborating with some brilliant minds out of The Tampery on Old Street in London. What an electric work space. We have a great deal to learn from our companions in the UK surrounding open banking, comprehensive credit reporting and social scoring.
“This agreement would help us move more quickly as well as give us better access to the right talent across borders.”
Mike McAuley, CEO of Anglo-Australian Bluechain Payments Ltd, said: “This agreement is especially significant for Bluechain. Incorporated as a fintech in the UK, we are headquartered in Melbourne, where we have a significant product and business development presence.”
“The UK is also one of our primary targets because their payments industry is far more progressive and the market is an order-of-magnitude larger than Australia. As such, the UK presents a much wider range of opportunities for innovators like Bluechain. We look forward to the greater co-ordination that this agreement will bring on promoting and facilitating the deployment of our payments technology both here and in the UK.”
Timothy Dickinson, Chief Operating Officer of leading Australian cryptocurrency hardware provider, Coinstop, said: “As an Australian company looking to expand internationally, the Australian and UK FinTech Bridge will enable us to further develop industry contacts and grow our network abroad.”
“The collaboration between Australia and the UK demonstrates a positive intention to support and guide FinTech startups through expectations surrounding governments, regulators and industry bodies.
Under the agreement, FinTech Australia and its UK counterpart, Innovate Finance, will be given the opportunity to help set the agenda for government-to-government talks. The two industry bodies will also be examining reciprocal membership agreements.
FinTech Australia had input into the bridge agreement’s provisions.
The bridge agreement can be found at http://treasury.gov.au/fintech
Further comments from FinTech Australia members
Jack Zhang, CEO and Co-Founder of FX and International Payments provider Airwallex, commented: “UK expansion has become an integral aspect of the success of Australian fintechs, and this important agreement further strengthens the relationship between Australia and the UK’s financial markets. This exciting new development brings us one step closer to the Airwallex vision of global financial inclusion and connectivity, and we look forward to witnessing the Australian and UK fintech communities flourish as a result of the bridge.”
Lachlan Heussler, Managing Director of leading online unsecured business lender Spotcap Australia and New Zealand, said: “The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge is positive news for the industry and something we fully support. Spotcap already helps thousands of small businesses across both the UK and Australia, so this dialogue between governments, regulators and the industry will bring many benefits to business owners as well as our own operations. We believe regulation is also vital to afford greater consumer protection and establish trust and credibility for the alternative lending market”.
Dr Toby Heap, Founding Partner of fintech investor and accelerator H2 Ventures, said: “This is a great step forward for Australia and the UK given the importance of the financial services industry to both economies. This strong bilateral relationship will ensure the future strength and global competitiveness of our increasingly technology-driven financial services sectors.”
Doug Morris, CEO of Sydney-based online portfolio tracker Sharesight, said: “We currently spend a significant amount of engineering effort and client support time in getting people’s investment data into our software.”
“It was eye-opening to see the impact of the UK’s Open Banking initiatives during my visit to London as part of the Australian Fintech Forum (BAFF) last April. Better access to open financial data would go a long way towards customers tracking their investments. If we can work more closely with the UK, and learn from their experiences, I’m all for it.”
Farley Blackman, CEO of YBF Ventures, a tech innovation centre and home to Melbourne’s first dedicated fintech hub, said: “We were honoured to host The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of London and the British fintech delegation at YBF during their Melbourne visit in February.
“The formalisation of the fintech bridge between the UK and Australia further cements the technological innovation commitments of both countries. The bridge enables needed growth opportunities for both UK and Australian startups, while enabling corporates the ability to find innovative solutions from both countries.”
David Brown, CEO of foreign exchange services comparison platformBestExchangeRates.com, said: “There are potentially many benefits to be gained both ways from this bridge agreement.”
“From the Australian perspective, London still wears the crown for being the world’s main foreign exchange trading centre and this has expedited developments in cross-border payment fintech in the UK ahead of anywhere else in the world. If the agreement can smooth the way for Australian start-ups to expand there and boomerang their experience back to Australia, that’s a double-whammy and the sooner the better.”
Daniel Foggo, CEO of RateSetter Australia, a leading peer-to-peer lender, said: “This commitment between Australia and the UK clearly recognises that fintech businesses are increasingly playing a significant role in the economy, providing much needed competition to the bank model and delivering consumers greater choice and value”.
Andrea Gardiner, Founder & CEO of Jelix Ventures which invests its own funds in early stage innovative technology startups and invites sophisticated investors to co-invest on the same terms, said: “We applaud the prospect of live testing regulations accommodating innovative fintech businesses across both jurisdictions because this should accelerate the process of new fintech companies getting to market.”