'Aussie fintechs forge closer ties with London' James Eyers, AFR
Australian and British fintech start-ups, regulators and government bodies will look to deepen ties this week as ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security, Dan Tehan, and ASX deputy CEO Peter Hiom lead a fintech trade delegation to London.
The trip, arranged by the Australian British Chamber of Commerce with support from the Australian Trade and Investments Commission and UK Department for International Trade, will involve Australian-based startups including AgriDigital, Timelio, Neu.Capital, PayDock, Sharesight, Tradle, Splend and Edstart.
The group will visit the London Stock Exchange, Amazon and Level 39 in Canary Wharf, which houses more than 200 fintech companies. It will receive briefings from UK startup challenger banks Atom and Starling and hear about UK experiences with open data, cyber security and blockchain.
"The fintech startups that have been selected to attend are some of the best from across the Australian startup ecosystem and will do a great job of representing the success and strength of Australia as a leading global fintech player," said Stone & Chalk-based venture capitalist Toby Heap, a co-founder of H2 Ventures, who will also be on the delegation.
"These startups were selected in part because of their desire to expand globally. Startups with global ambitions and can scale globally can deliver excellent return on investment to their early backers."
Despite Brexit quelling some of the fintech momentum created by former chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, Innovate Finance, a trade group for the UK global fintech community, is continuing to advocate for London as one of the global fintech hubs. Innovate Finance is planning on soon opening offices in Mumbai and Shenzhen.
The UK's Financial Conduct Authority has in the past few months signed co-operation agreements with regulators in China, Japan, Canada and Hong Kong relating to fintech. It also issued a discussion paper last week on distributed ledger technology.
Mr Hiom will update UK officials on the ASX's work with Digital Asset Holdings to build a distributed ledger to clear and settle the equity market in Australia in a presentation on Thursday.
While the ASX is leading the world in considering capital market applications of blockchain, the UK is forging ahead in areas where Australia is planning to follow. The UK and European Union are preparing for an open data regime, similar to the one being advocated by the Productivity Commission, while the regulatory "sandbox" touted by ASIC has also been set up by the FCA.
Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, told the Innovate Finance Global Summit in London last week the regulator received 77 applications for the second round of its sandbox and would accept 31 of them.
"In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum there was a concern that we would see the number of innovative firms wanting to operate in the UK fall. Indeed we did see a dip and it's worth reflecting on the fact that we live in an uncertain climate and nothing can be taken for granted," he said.
The delegation of Australian entrepreneurs to London follows a visit to Sydney and Melbourne in March by 10 UK fintech startups. In an indication of closer collaboration between Australia and Britain on technology opportunities, the group was introduced to local VCs, the regulator and government ministers, and was hosted at various functions by King & Wood Mallesons, National Australia Bank, Macquarie Bank, KPMG and Pitcher Partners.
The UK startups on the UK Department for International Trade-backed trip were Aire, FundApps, ingage, ClearMacro, Clarus Financial Technology, iwoca, Sybenetix, Tradle, Onfido and ObjectTech.
The visit was aimed at fostering "greater collaboration between our countries in this rapidly developing and growing sector", said Michael Ward, the British Consul-General in Sydney and director-general of UK Trade and Investment.
"The opportunities for both the UK and Australasia in fintech are vast and it is fantastic to see so many UK fintech companies doing well here," he said, pointing to Ratesetter, ThinCats, TruRating and OTCX.
Mr Heap said the visit to London this week was "an excellent opportunity for innovative Australian financial services organisations, fintech startups, policymakers and regulators to spend quality time together and to meet and collaborate with their UK counterparts".