Financial services technology, or FinTech, are the solutions to current business problems. Through the enabling power of software, hardware and processes, consumers are able to customise their own financial needs while still complying with institutional policy. So is FinTech strictly limited to the banking and financial industries, or is there scope to branch out? Similarly, is the FinTech lifecycle driven by the people that need it or by the innovators, or a combination of both?
Sydney is one of Australia’s largest FinTech centres which is critically linked to not only the domestic economy but also the global economy. With strong education and commercial pipelines that connect talent to institutions around the world, Sydney is undoubtedly a key player in Australia’s development and adoption of FinTech. Even as sophisticated as Sydney may seem, it is still outclassed in the global space of FinTech with the US, UK and Asia all employing and funding FinTech startups to base themselves in these technology hubs. But why these areas? According to KPMG, the common denominators between America, the UK, China and Israel is that:
- “They build on existing foundations”,
- “Available and accessible early stage of funding for FinTech start-up and a strong pipeline of opportunities and investors”,
- “Depth of financial services and technology talent, with close proximity of these talent pools to each other”,
- “A robust financial services industry, with a vibrant technology start-up community with mentoring, networking and high visibility”,
- “Government and regulatory support for FinTech and technology start-ups”,
- “Business backing for a FinTech hub, with high levels of collaboration and a strong culture of knowledge sharing and entrepreneurship”.
Interestingly, Sydney is not too far away from establishing itself as a competitor in the FinTech arena. Government and corporate institutions have recognised these trends among the leaders and have acted appropriately (despite the lag) to push educational and financial resources towards those domestic pioneers. For example, in 2014, New South Wales had over 13,000 students studying information and computer technologies in 11 universities, and in mid-2015, Stone and Chalk was also opened in Sydney’s CBD. If Sydney has any chance of cementing itself in the global value chain in the FinTech sector, Stone and Chalk provides the best opportunity.
To answer the final question presented at the beginning of this article, the most accurate answer I can put forward is that it is a perpetual cycle requiring both consumers and innovators to act and react to the problems and solutions provided to them. It is clear that the innovators and ‘backers’ have the vision, strategy, collaborative experience and commitment to provide these products and services to consumers, who simultaneously offer the alignment, accessibility and promotion effects as a result of usage. Since FinTech presents new unchartered territory for both parties it can only be suggested that new, affordable and penetrating technology combined with competition and changing consumer behaviour have the ability to consistently pace the growth of the FinTech environment.