Australia is fast becoming a top source of fintech funding

By @chelean on
The Central Business District is seen from the air on a sunny winter afternoon in Sydney August 24, 2013.
The Central Business District is seen from the air on a sunny winter afternoon in Sydney August 24, 2013. Millions of tourists arrive in Sydney every year, attracted by its beaches nearby, great weather and stunning harbour views. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

Despite opportunities lost and having a relatively smaller fintech market than that of the US and the UK, Australia remains a top source of funding for financial technology companies.

Last week, Australia’s biggest finance firm Atlassian debuted on Nasdaq, causing somewhat of a heartbreak to the local fintech market as its road to becoming a global public brand and increasing its current $8 billion valuation could contribute a lot to the local finance industry.

However, various experts in the country are still confident that there is still an overflowing amount of money to boost the nascent fintech industry, and this could come from the local investors and companies.

Economists projected that US$30 billion (AU$42 billion) will be invested next year in the Australian fintech market. This is considered a big boost as there was only US$100 million (AU$139 million) total investments in 2008, a sign that investors are seeing the country as a worthy alternative (and expansion target) to the US and London.

"This is our fourth year. Four years ago we talked to a number of Australian investment groups and there was very limited interest for a company trying to disrupt financial services. In the last 12 months we have seen a huge swing the other way," Beau Bertoli, the co-chief executive of small business lender Prospa, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

He added that Australia would see onshore money coming in the industry in the next 12 months. Prospa has recently been included in the list of top 100 fintech companies in the world by Fintech Innovators. It landed at 33.

According to analysts, what’s undeniable is that the sincerity of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over capitalising on its potential is pulling the local fintech market up. This is intensified by the vision of the prime minister’s wife to tap the small industry to make it more than just a niche market, encouraging investors and entrepreneurs in the country to push for more innovations in the segment.

“Lucy Turnbull understands that developing a thriving fintech scene will have a multiplier effect throughout the economy, and will be able to give a lift to other creative industries including design, engineering and computer science,” James Eyers of the Australian Financial Review wrote in September. 

Eyers also cited the Mrs Turnbull’s piece in a report 18 months ago as a KPMG commissioner, quoting her saying that the Committee for Sydney “will seek to help accelerate Sydney's growing position in the region's financial services industry by supporting its burgeoning fintech scene and the ecosystem and environment required to sustain it.”

Adrian Beeston, whose company Silver Falcon Plc (SILF:LN) has already decided to focus on London’s fintech market, also agrees that any market can become attractive to local and foreign investors as long as government support and internal industry enthusiasm shared by investors and entrepreneurs themselves co-exist.

“That’s the reason why London’s fintech [industry] has turned so big and shows no sign of shrinking — there’s a balance regulation which businessmen and investors like,” he said.

And, as Eyers has suggested it, the banks, the market players and the fintech heads are “on the same page.” This proves that any market could be revived as long as there is unity between segments. However, no one knows if it could end up well for Australia, as everyone needs consistency and continuity, as the opposite of such are common pitfalls present in any blossoming market.

 

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