The Committee for Sydney, an independent think tank championing the Australian city's potential as an economic hub, is calling for fresh impetus from the NSW Government to boost the fintech ecosystem.
A report prepared by the Committee and KMPG notes the startling growth in fintech activity across Australia over the past three years, with the country now vying with Singapore to become Asia's leading startup hub.
The study finds that the number of fintech start-ups in Australia has increased from less than 100 in 2014 to 579 companies today with 59% based in Sydney. These start-ups are employing more than 10,000 people as VC's increase investment in the sector. Approximately US$675 million was invested across 25 deals in 2016, the report says, with Sydney being the major recipient, reaping up to US$171 million between 2014 and 2016.
While payments, regtech and blockchain are seen by the industry as key areas where Australia has potential to lead the world, the report notes that regulatory challenges continue to stifle innovation. "Sydney, and Australia more broadly, doesn’t have a clear business brand for fintech," the report continues "and beyond our quality of lifestyle there is a lack of clear incentive for international talent to come to Sydney to start a business."
Despite the carping, change is already afoot. The report lands two weeks after the NSW Government announced that it was planning to spend $35 million on a new startup hub bringing disparate incubators in the city together under one roof.
The NSW initiative follows a June announcement by the Victorian Government that it would be establishing a fintech hub at the Goods Shed North in Melbourne’s Docklands. The Victorian Government has also confirmed it will be the presenting partner of Australia’s inaugural fintech festival, known as Intersekt, to be held in Melbourne from late October to early November.
And, in a reflection of Australia's growing status in Asia pacific, Chinese conglomerate Alibaba has also just announced that it will bring its global startup contest to Sydney tech hub Haymarket HQ next month.