Hardly a fortnight goes by without an American or British fintech player announcing a launch in the Australian market. Little wonder. Australia is rightly seen as an affluent economy, with digital-savvy consumers and a high penetration of mobile devices, a main prerequisite for the new business models spreading around the globe.
Even Berlin has joined the push with the latest specialist online lender Spotcap entering the Australian market, offering loans for working capital-starved SMEs.
There is nothing wrong with all that, except where are the Australian contenders? Where are the best and brightest Australian bankers and techies who are getting their act together and competing for the new global marketplace for new digital financial services?
The prosperity of a nation, beyond the blessing of natural resources, depends on disruption. The wealth has and will always be created by innovative, high-growth companies using the window of opportunity that opens when technological breakthroughs enable a radical new idea to come to fruition. The easiest measure for a nation to gauge its future is to ask how many companies in its Fortune 500 list were not around 15 years ago, 25 years ago, 50 years ago.
The digital revolution has reached the highly complex and regulated sectors of manufacturing (Industry 4.0), health and banking (fintech). Sydney is three years behind New York and London. If we want to play a role in the future of banking, we need to get going now.
What if we were to instigate 1000 fintech startups in the next two years? In Sydney, we now have Fintech Alley with Tyro and Stone & Chalk fintech hubs, both in Clarence Street in the heart of the CBD. Now we need the bankers to leave their towers and team up with talented techies to build the city’s nascent ecosystem. It is only out of such an ecosystem that we can create the future of financial services and banking.