The UK Department for International Trade’s Michael Ward is excited about the number of fintech partnerships forged between Australia and the UK and writes that both countries have achieved so much in a year.
The global financial services industry is going through a period of dramatic change driven by digital technology. As with any major disruption, there are challenges to be navigated and opportunities to be seized. The UK and Australian governments launched a FinTech Bridge last year in response to these shifting industry dynamics.
This is designed to promote collaboration, facilitate partnerships and make it easier for fintechs in both countries to enter each other’s markets. It’s about reducing regulatory barriers and taking steps towards reciprocal policy development.
With the second year well underway, we’ve been reflecting on some of the incredible business success from our first year. The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge has already facilitated 230 meetings, provided bespoke advice to 190 companies and made a similar number of introductions. We’ve run six trade missions, three in each direction, and had almost 40 fintechs doing business in each other’s countries.
I am particularly excited about the partnerships between Australian and UK fintechs that have been generated so far.
For example, Sydney-based ID Exchange has facilitated deals on behalf of mainframe microservicing platform Mainframe Cloud and behavioural planning tool Mafematica with UK-based personal data platform digi.me.
And if anyone is wondering whether Brexit will disrupt this fantastic cooperation, the answer is an emphatic ‘no’
The UK’s Crowd2Fund has launched Australian operations by partnering with New South Wales debt collection software company, Indebted. And privately owned Australian fintech Squirrel has agreed terms to acquire UK non-bank lender, BlueZest.
We’ve also launched the UK-Australia FinTech Alliance, a community gathering designed to facilitate the exchange ideas over an occasional drink at sundown.
When listing all these achievements, it’s easy to see how the UK-Australia FinTech Bridge has already become an important pillar in the trade and investment relationship between our two countries.
But this is just the start, there’s a lot going on and so much more to look forward to. Following the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) visit to Sydney in May, there’s the Australian British Chamber of Commerce Financial Services Catalyst mission to the UK this week.
The Lord Mayor of the City of London will visit Perth, Melbourne and Sydney with a fintech business delegation in September, while the UK Department for International Trade is taking an Australian fintech delegation to Sibos 2019 in London.
The first 10 companies in the FinTech Bridge Pilot Programme will come to Sydney and Melbourne in October, attending FinTech Australia’s annual Intersekt Festival.
The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge is an outstanding example of practical government, industry and company collaboration. It’s actively supported by the financial regulators in both countries, because the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the UK’s FCA see tremendous opportunities for innovative financial services to deliver better outcomes for consumers and businesses.
And if anyone is wondering whether Brexit will disrupt this fantastic cooperation, the answer is an emphatic ‘no’. The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge sets a great foundation for whatever happens next, which the Government hopes will be a Free Trade Agreement with a substantial digital component. This is practical bilateral economic cooperation at its very best and long may it continue.
Michael Ward is the Deputy Trade Commissioner Asia Pacific - Australia and New Zealand, UK Department for International Trade.