Some of the world’s best minds in fintech will shortly converge on Melbourne for a three-day conference.
Fintech – much catchier than 'financial technology' – is revolutionising the way we access financial services. It is a new industry which harnesses technology to improve activities in finance using a mobile phone, an app, or the internet for purchases, money transfers, borrowing, insurance or financial planning. A service most of us are familiar with, no doubt.
But what’s less well known is that Melbourne is home to some of the best fintech startups in the world. This makes our city a first-rate choice as host for the upcoming third annual fintech industry conference.
Intersekt 2018 runs from 29 to 31 October and the Victorian Government is a major sponsor. It is expected to be the biggest gathering of Australia’s fintech community with 400 attendees from across the wide fintech ecosystem. Whether a start-up, a scale-up, policymakers or a banker, all are devoted to unlocking the potential for Australian fintech in the global market.
“We’re seeing a lot of great collaboration between fintechs and banks” – Stuart Stoyan.
One of the speakers at Intersekt is CEO and founder of MoneyPlace, Stuart Stoyan. His Melbourne-based company is a marketplace lending platform, providing online personal loans with interest rates tailored to individual borrower circumstances.
In advance of his presentation at Intersekt, Stuart describes the evolution of fintech so far, and what can be expected next.
"The first wave of successful fintech in Australia was in areas such as lending, wealth management and robo advice [financial advice provided by a computer program]," he says, adding that now, the new 'big thing' in fintech is digital-only start-up banks called 'neobanks' (banks without physical locations).
Then there’s open banking – enabling customers to digitally share their bank data – that, predicts Stuart, will accelerate and open up competition in financial services, which will use open banking when it’s slated to go live in Australia in July 2019.
"Open banking is about improved customer value on a massive scale," he says. "It’s about enabling customers to share their banking data with other financial services providers (both fintech and non-fintechs) who can then use that data to provide products and services so that customers can get a fairer, better deal. It could be a cheaper loan, better advice or just having a better understanding of your finances."
"For startups, open banking helps companies to more easily access customer data, in a more secure manner," he says. "It means you’re likely to see customers have a faster take up of new offerings, which will help accelerate growth."
Stuart explains how the relationship between banks and fintechs, which hasn’t always been harmonious, has begun to shift in recent times.
"We’re seeing a lot of great collaboration between fintechs and banks," says Stuart. "From providing products to bank customers, to providing services to the banks themselves, the tone has shifted from 'fintechs will put banks out of business’ to ‘how can we work together to create great customer outcomes?'"
"This will increase following this year’s Hayne Royal Commission as banks recognise they can partner with fintechs to solve many of the problems that have been called out. In fact, many fintechs have already solved problems arising in the royal commission in areas like responsible lending, providing advice and customer identity verification."
So what makes fintech in our state stand out?
"Victoria has a vast, thriving fintech landscape from lending to wealth management, regtech [regulatory technology], superannuation and personal finance management," Stuart says.
"What’s great is that this taps into Victoria’s strength as an Australian hub in banking, superannuation and health insurance. Our fintechs are also well-serviced by two Victorian Government-supported fintech hubs –Stone & Chalk and YBF Ventures. This – combined with global fintechs Square and Stripe making Melbourne their regional headquarters – gives experience and talent to the local ecosystem."
Stuart’s top advice for local fintech start-ups is to just get out there and engage.
"As a founder, your greatest risk is being an island," he warns. "Our state has a supportive, diverse fintech community and you should reach out. Whether it’s a technical problem or general experience in running and scaling a startup, Victoria’s startup ecosystem is unparalleled in support," he says, citing the upcoming Intersekt conference as evidence.
"The benefit of events such as Intersekt is the ability to meet and engage with the best and the brightest in fintech, corporate and government. Intersekt does a great job of bringing together a diverse range of local and global speakers."
To conclude, Stuart offers some final advice. He believes that sharing ideas is better than being overly protective of what you might mistakenly believe is a unique concept.
"I’ve seen many founders paranoid about being in stealth mode because they believe they’re at risk of being copied," notes Stuart, "but the reality is that if your idea can be copied off the back of a conversation, then you’ll probably have limited success in the market."
Stuart believes this is an exciting time to be involved in the fintech sector, and due to the evolving landscape, in five years' time we can expect a new wave of fintech to emerge.
Intersekt 2018 runs from 29 to 31 October at Melbourne’s Docklands.
Tickets for single day admission are available alongside corporate packages.
For the full program and more information visit the Intersekt website.