Fintech Down Under
Cameron Dart is the CEO of International FinTech, a hub that connects Australian fintech companies to the rest of the world and vice versa.
The company recently opened a London “launch pad” office that helps Australian startups expand globally and links startups in other countries to the Australian market.
To help shed light on the state of Australian fintech, Benzinga caught up with Cameron Dart for a Q&A about innovation and how fintech solves problems for Australian users.
Q&A With Cameron Dart
What’s the general “lay of the land” of Australian fintech?
The Australian fintech industry as a whole is in its infancy compared to the United States and the U.K. However, with functions like contactless payments, we’re years ahead of the more established fintech ecosystems. Australia has had contactless payments for several years now and some countries still haven’t introduced the technology.
Some of our other “backend” technology is world-leading as well. A fintech CEO told me that they’d been informed by seasoned overseas investors that their technology was like “nothing they’d ever seen before.”
Lenders are the major players in Australia. Peer-to-peer lenders like SocietyOne, RateSetter and MoneyPlace have a well-established presence with heavy financial backers. Small business and personal lenders like Moula, zipMoney and Afterpay are doing very well.
Australia also has plenty of overseas fintech companies playing in our backyard — Paypal Holdings Inc (USA), TransferWise (UK), RateSetter (UK), Spotcap (Germany), Stripe (USA), On Deck Capital Inc (USA), Acorns (USA), Braintree (USA), CurrencyFair (Ireland), WorldPay (UK) — so they obviously see Australia as a market to be in. Plus, there’s no language barrier here.
There are also Australian fintech companies that have branched out overseas, are based in both countries or even moved overseas, like Avoka (USA), ChimpChange (USA) CoAssets (Singapore), Lend2Fund (UK) and CoinJar (UK).
And as part of what Australian FinTech and International FinTech does, it helps Australian fintech companies to expand overseas. So far, we’ve set up a “landing pad” in London where we have accountants, lawyers, stockbrokers and investors ready to help Australian fintech companies hit the ground running in London. And on the flip side, we can help fintech companies launch and expand in Australia.
What specific problems does fintech solve for Australians?
In Australia there are four major banks, and these “big four banks” have a stranglehold on the finance sector. Australian fintech companies are starting to disrupt this oligopoly. Australians are starting to see that there is an alternative for financial products and services. As mentioned, the Australian fintech industry is in its infancy, but in a year or two, the landscape will be much different.
We are already seeing some Australian fintech companies partner with the big banks, either via public or private investment, sharing information, sharing customers and/or banks using fintech products and platforms.
On the flip side, I’ve also been told first-hand by several Australian fintech CEOs that they’ve been approached by the big banks to merge or offer investment, and that these CEOs have refused to have anything to do with them.
What makes Australia a good fit for the home of the international fintech community through the launch of your platform?
In this day and age, you really can work anywhere in the world with a laptop and a phone. In saying that, Australia is a great place to be for fintech at the moment because there’s so much happening here. I’m not saying the U.S. and U.K. are boring or stale, but the fintech industry is well-established there. In Australia we are still learning, stumbling, succeeding, expanding, contracting, disrupting — it’s all going on! So, we here at International FinTech are seeing it all. We are seeing what’s working and what’s not, we are witnessing what succeeds in the U.K. but is not working in India, what is huge in the U.S. [that] doesn’t even exist in Australia and how European fintech companies are expanding globally.
Tell me more about the platform. Where will it pull news and data from?
We source our information in three ways:
We’ve achieved great success and strong loyalty with fintech companies and PR firms in Australia and Asia, so we know we can continue that success globally.
- Fintech companies: We have built a huge amount of trust and recognition [with] hundreds of fintech companies in Australia. What these companies love, apart from the publicity, is that we have a great response time. When news or a press release is sent directly to us, we have it posted on our site and shared across social media within one hour. So, these firms continually come straight to us. What many people read in the press today was on AustralianFintech.com.au yesterday! And it will be the same for InternationalFintech.com.
- PR firms: Just like the fintech companies, we’ve built a strong rapport with 20 or so PR firms in Australia and throughout Asia. They are amazed at our rapid response and efficiency, and so we have plenty of repeat business. We see this being replicated globally for the International site.
- News: We scour the internet for relevant articles that we believe people will want to read. Often the one topic can be found on various news sources [and] rewritten in various ways, so it’s our job to sort through them all, find the best and share it on our site and across social media.
Which global fintech markets are most interesting to you?
As an Australian, and being immersed in the local scene, I would have to say the Australian fintech scene as it is still growing, learning, adapting and emerging. Apart from Australia, I think there’s some really interesting products coming out of India. The Indian fintech scene appears to be driven by sheer volume and the size of their middle-class population and the willingness to take up new and exciting fintech applications.
What kind of fintech applications are most exciting to you?
The simplest ones! It’s amazing how many fintech companies we’ve examined over the past few years — probably close to 2,000 globally — and probably once a week we’ll discover a new fintech where [the] idea is so simple, yet brilliant. Those are the businesses I like the best.