Where do the opportunities lie in Australia’s FinTech industry?

Let’s say you want to start a business in the prosperous Australian FinTech industry. Those already in the financial services industry might have some idea where to start, but what if your background is in another area and you feel opportunity calling? Where should you be looking?

The term FinTech covers a wide range of technology developed for the financial services sector. As this sector contributes around 10% of Australia’s GDP, it already has great infrastructure, but not all of it is designed for 21st Century needs. We want things done faster, greater access to information, and more choice in almost everything we do. That’s where new and innovative financial technologies come in.

The areas they cover have developed into their own sub-industries. These include:

– Reg tech – Regulation and compliance technologies.
– Wealth tech – Such as investment and finance management apps.
– Legal tech – This overlaps with reg tech and speeds up legal data processing.
– Blockchain technologies – These are evolving from cryptocurrencies into other forms of online transactions.
– Lending – No longer just the domain of the big banks, smaller players can now use apps to reach clients who may not have been able to access credit in the past.
– Trading – As the global economy expands, trading data and exchange and customs documents need to be shared faster than ever before.
– Money transfer technology – Only around half of point-of-sale transactions are made with cash these days, and that figure is dropping. The rest are done with the click of a button or the tap of a phone.

Georgia Beattie, CEO of Startup Victoria, Ben Williamson, Co-founder of dealPad, and Danielle Szetho, CEO of Fintech Australia, participated in a panel discussion on The Australian Fintech Ecosystem as part of Florence Guild’s speaker series, The Antidisciplinary Future’. This discussion shed many insights into the nature of this booming industry, its key participants, and the support industries that are emerging around it (such as coworking spaces).

One key trend they noted was that many larger financial organisations are not set up to meet the needs of start-ups. Their scale is simply too large. This creates opportunities for smaller companies and financial start-ups to step in and fill the gap, largely using bespoke digital technologies.

Many employees of these large firms are now the ones stepping out on their own to fill the spaces their employers can’t cater for. Other entrepreneurs are forming strategic partnerships to make them more competitive against the incumbents or, are forming partnerships with the incumbents themselves to help scale up and maintain consumer trust.

The opportunities don’t stop there, though. Innovation is happening in many spin-off categories as well. The largest areas include health tech, biotech, and ed tech (educational technology), however, there are more opportunities looming by bringing FinTech-type technologies into the media, sports, and agricultural industries – especially given Australia’s strength in these areas.

If you are a researcher, you’d do well to consider how your field of interest could be commercialised before you even start your PhD. Negotiate your terms with your university regarding how you take the knowledge with you afterwards. Currently, many founders in Australia have completed a Batchelor level or thereabouts. However, overseas, many have PhD’s and there are supports springing up to help manage commercialisation negotiations.

With so much activity happening in this space, you’ll find lots of support and resources from organisations like Startup Victoria and Fintech Australia, along with the many accelerator programs and incubator hubs emerging in the state capitals – especially Sydney and Melbourne.

‘The Antidisciplinary Future’ series narrative explores how we can look outside traditional disciplines to find better ways to live and work now and in the future. Hear more of Danielle Szetho’s insights into the future of FinTech in Australia by tuning in to episode 13 of our podcast. You can also keep up to date with conversations with other thought leaders by subscribing to our podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

‘The Antidisciplinary Future’ series narrative explores how we can look outside traditional disciplines to find better ways to live and work now and in the future. To discover more about the opportunities evolving in the Australian FinTech industry, listen to the full panel discussion on the Florence Guild podcast episode, The Australian Fintech Ecosystem (episode 14 of the ‘antidisciplinary’ podcast series). You can also keep up to date with conversations with other thought leaders by subscribing to our podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.