ANZ and NAB just backed Stone & Chalk to open a new Melbourne fintech hub

Photo: Stone & Chalk/ Facebook.

Sydney fintech hub Stone & Chalk is opening a Melbourne co-working space next month.

Alan Tsen has stepped down as head of FinTech Victoria to become general manager at Stone & Chalk Melbourne, which will have 60 desks at 459 Collins Street in the CBD. He will hire additional staff in the coming weeks.

Stone & Chalk chief executive Alex Scandurra said that the new Melbourne office is “a historic achievement” for the nation’s fintech industry.

“[We are] providing promising fintech startups with a physical headquarters and access to customers, mentorship and partnerships in Australia’s two largest cities,” he said.

“By global standards, Australia is a very small market so we need to find more ways to enable collaboration between Australia’s major economic hubs which are our major cities and regions. Our Melbourne hub will help to further accelerate an already fast-moving industry that’s integral to Australia’s future.”

Stone & Chalk will sit alongside agricultural tech hub SproutX in the space, with SproutX director Andrew Lai saying the new housemate “makes absolute sense”.

“The collaboration between Stone & Chalk with SproutX will see a new agri-fintech program developed, to explore how new fintech innovation can help solve major issues, and opportunities in the global agricultural sector.”

“There is a huge but often overlooked connection between agriculture and financial services, and savvy startups are starting to take notice.”

Stone & Chalk attracted a range of anchor corporate partners to support its Melbourne expansion, featuring the likes of ANZ, NAB, AustralianSuper, Findex, Genworth and Liberty Financial – all headquartered in Melbourne.

AustralianSuper chief executive Ian Silk said the new Melbourne hub would provide Victorian startups with “a tested formula” from Stone & Chalk’s original Sydney space, which opened in 2015.

“The partnership approach between existing businesses and entrepreneurial startups will bring benefits to both sides, and assist AustralianSuper to ensure it is best placed to meet changing member demands,” he said.

Founder of Melbourne startup Money Place, Stuart Stoyan, said that Stone & Chalk would finally provide “a centre of gravity” for the local fintech community.

“I think the hub will further accelerate the Victorian ecosystem, and provide startups with an opportunity to access programs, corporate partners and other early stage companies in the fintech space. Melbourne has a thriving fintech ecosystem with many world-class startups.”

Tsen said Melbourne already had 50 fintechs emplying more than 500 people, but had found it difficult to nab affordable working space, as well as “mentorship, talent, business programs and capital”.

“By launching Stone & Chalk in Melbourne we will help local fintech startups feel part of a bigger fintech movement, connecting them with potential investors, and customers nationally, and globally,” he said.