Summing up the #FinTech summit

Coinciding with the launch of the inaugural EY FinTech Australia Census 2016*, FinTech Australia’s first industry summit Collab/Collide was a major beneficiary of the initial round of funding from the Victorian government’s LaunchVic program. The summit provided a useful opportunity to survey the global landscape, to compare notes and of course, to network. But did we learn anything new?

6278fd_bc2f12c8b40744a281f9afbb37ba1a3emv2The summit was programmed around key FinTech themes of payment services, alternative funding, robo-advice, Blockchain, data and regulation. Participation by some key industry figures from Asia, Europe and the USA (both founders and investors) also provided some international perspective.

While Australia appears to be maintaining a top 5 position in the global FinTech rankings, our focus on things like P2P lending, payments and robo-advice risks losing sight of bigger opportunities in Blockchain assets, enterprise solutions and institutional services.

And although it was good to see a team from the Treasury Corporation of Victoria in the audience, as well some of their colleagues from DEDJTR, it was surprising that there was hardly any representation from among institutional investors (superannuation funds, asset managers, insurance industry), major financial institutions, or the traditional financial markets (exchanges, intermediaries, brokers, vendors)**.

Some of the best sessions were the comparative panels on Blockchain, regulation and funding. In particular, there was an interesting discussion on whether Australia should be worried or concerned about UK opportunities post-Brexit, or focus more on Asian markets. But with the development of reciprocal financial licensing arrangements between Australia and the UK, and Australia and Singapore (and between the UK and Singapore), ASIC is clearly trying to engage with both markets.

The Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison also took time out of his busy schedule to address the audience on the topic of Open Banking Standards, following on from the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on Data Availability and Use. The overall goal is to have a system of FinTech data and operating standards that is “regulatory match fit”, that delivers frictionless inter-party transactions and enhanced industry participation and collaboration. For example: once the New Payment Platform launches in 2017, we should have more open access to transaction data; the ATO is implementing a “single-touch” payroll process; and ASIC is due to publish recommendations for the financial services Regulatory Sandbox by the end of 2016.

Unfortunately, given the changes in venue and content, the program struggled to stretch to a second full day, as audience numbers dwindled. Something for the organisers to think about next time? I would also advocate organising specific sessions, e.g., for B2B and B2C, or for vendors and institutions.

Finally, speaking to a member of the DEDJTR team, there is a clear desire on the part of the State government that the FinTech community will come together along with other market participants to figure out how to scale this emerging sector. In other words, how to turn the growing number of FinTech startups (often with directly competing products and services), hubs, incubators, accelerators and VC funds into a sustainable industry?

* For a handy summary of the EY survey, check out Lucinda de Jong’s blog for Timelio

** In the interests of full disclosure, a FinTech startup I work with, Brave New Coin (a market data vendor for Blockchain assets) was a Strategic Partner for the Summit

Next week: The Startup of Me v2.0

4 thoughts on “Summing up the #FinTech summit

  1. Seems to me a KPI of such a conference would be the mix of potential users and funders of the emerging product ideas, compared to those who seek to regulate and institutionally shape the space.
    Much of the marketing of innovation processes I see that have public funding in the mix end up being a talk fest amongst academics, bureaucrats, dreamers and rent seekers, with those doing the hard commercial yards staying away.

    • Allen – thanks as always for your input. The Summit attracted its fair share of VC investors, but not the institutional backers. One of the VC’s I spoke to afterwards commented that a few instos may be dipping a toe in the water by “investing” via their marketing budgets (something I have commented on before – #10) but this does not create a sustainable funding model, nor does it always get measured effectively. So there still needs to be a better way to connect founders and funders. Finally, I also agree that representation from user groups is also desirable.

  2. Quick (generally similar) thoughts as conference attendee/speaker:
    * Change of venue was sub-optimal, and as you said the crowd struggled to get to and they stay at Day 2
    * I thought speaker selection was very good. The international speakers really participated and contributed. And were available for ongoing discussions after their talks
    * The Treasurer’s speech was too scripted and too long. Whilst an important announcement, he could have summarised and had as an example a very controlled discussion with a few of the industry luminaries there.
    * Vic Govt has paid for the privilege of hosting this, and should follow on for the next couple.
    * Organising team were very enthusiastic and really tried to keep the delegate networking and vibe positive
    * As the industry matures, will be good to get some speakers and participants to share their financial outcomes from year to year

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