Australia’s fintech startups are keen to exploit the new bridge agreement with the UK

Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images
  • The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge has been signed by Treasurer Scott Morrison and the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond.
  • Collaboration between Governments to identify emerging FinTech trends and policy issues, enabling better policy responses.
  • Exploring opportunities for quicker licence processing for FinTech firms that are already licenced or authorised in the other country.

Leading members of Australia’s fintech community say they are ready to use the new UK-Australia Fintech Bridge agreement to expand their startups.

Treasurer Scott Morrison and the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond signed the deal overnight.

The bridge agreement outlines how governments, regulators, trade promotion agencies and industry bodies from the two countries will work together to drive fintech growth.

Stuart Stoyan, the chair of industry group FinTech Australia, says the UK market is critically important.

Last year’s EY FinTech Australia Census found that the UK was the number one target market for future international expansion among Australian fintechs.

The bridge deal states that Australian and UK regulators will explore opportunities to enable quicker licensing processing for inbound innovative businesses, if these businesses are already licensed in the other jurisdiction.

“This is a big potential step forward from the current arrangement, whereby the regulators are largely simply referring businesses to each other, and could help Australian businesses get far quicker access to the UK market,” says Stoyan.

“We are also particularly excited about the proposal for Australian and UK financial services regulators to work together to live-test innovative regulations across both markets.”

Australia as an Asia-Pacific HQ

Stoyan also says there’s strong evidence that UK-based fintech companies are increasingly choosing Australia as the location for their headquarters to serve the broader Asia-Pacific region.

“This is a trend we would like to see continue and potentially strengthened through greater co-ordination of trade promotion via this agreement,” he says.

Under the agreement, FinTech Australia and its UK counterpart, Innovate Finance, will be given the opportunity to help set the agenda for government-to-government talks. The two industry bodies will also be examining reciprocal membership agreements.

Anthony Millet, CEO of property investment platform BRICKX, says the agreement is a fantastic advancement for Australian fintechs.

“Specifically to BRICKX, the London housing market has many affordability issues that are similar to Australia’s capital cities, and such agreements have an impact on us considering our options including timing and location for international expansion,” he says

Sophie Gerber, Director of trade reporting services provider TRAction Fintech, says her company already has a successful expansion to the UK.

“We have a number of financial services clients that are looking to expand to the UK,” she says.

“Similarly we have clients in the UK who are looking to come to Australia. I anticipate this will be a very useful development for companies operating in both countries looking to expand to sympathetic jurisdictions, especially so now that the Brexit deal seems to be taking shape.”

Jason Kaye, Co-Founder & CEO of savings startup WealthNation, says he’s already been scoping opportunities for expansion into the UK with the help of the UK Government’s Global Entrepreneur Program.

“This bridge agreement will hopefully lead to concrete outcomes that will not only make the go/no-go decisions associated with international expansion clearer, but more importantly, increase the speed to market,” he says.

Martin Davidson, CEO and cofounder of Melbourne’s Blockchain Centre, says the fintech bridge agreement has come at just the right time.

The centre is looking to expand globally to 20 centres by the end of 2018, adding to the existing three licensed international Blockchain Centres.

Jonny Wilkinson, Managing Director of equity crowdfunding platform Equitise, said: “With the open stance the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority have taken to regulating, we believe there is a huge opportunity to formalise the relationship and do more deals with our British cousins along with utilising London as a foothold for European expansion opportunities.”

Dr Toby Heap, Founding Partner of fintech investor and accelerator H2 Ventures, said: “This strong bilateral relationship will ensure the future strength and global competitiveness of our increasingly technology-driven financial services sectors.”

Daniel Foggo, CEO of RateSetter Australia, a leading peer-to-peer lender, said: “This commitment between Australia and the UK clearly recognises that fintech businesses are increasingly playing a significant role in the economy, providing much needed competition to the bank model and delivering consumers greater choice and value.”