The finance industry’s biggest names are betting on a huge fintech start-up in Sydney’s CBD

Former AMP head Craig Dunn is chairing Sydney’s new fintech hub

Some of the financial industry’s biggest players have thrown their support behind a $2 million financial tech start-up hub.

Named Stone and Chalk, the fintech hub is an independent, not-for-profit designed to foster and accelerate the development of world-class Australian fintech start-ups. Its 18 founding corporate partners are a Who’s Who of Finance, including AMP, ANZ, KPMG, Macquarie Group, Suncorp, Westpac, Woolworths, HSBC, IAG and American Express.

Stone and Chalk will open in May at 45 Clarence Street in Sydney’s CBD. The hub covers 1,230 square metres, with potential to grow to 3,000 sq m. It will accommodate up to 150 entrepreneurs at hot and fixed desks, and there are also offices and drop-in spaces, as well as room to host seminars, industry meetings and conferences. The concept is based on providing low-cost services, such as subsidised working space, expertise and mentoring, as well as access to capital for start-ups.

Corporates can rent space to co-create and innovate with start-ups and other partners.

The move comes just weeks after Australian payments company Tyro launched the city’s first fintech hub, also in Clarence Street, for up to 125 people, in a bid to take on the big banks.

Tyro boss Jost Stollmann has called for the regulator to intervene and even out the playing field in fintech, accusing Australia’s big banks of picking and choosing which fintech innovations survive in the heavily regulated market.

Former AMP boss and financial system inquiry panel member Craig Dunn is Stone and Chalk’s inaugural chairman and said he hopes it will become the heart of fintech in Australia and then Asia.

“Digital disruption is transforming the financial services industry and there is much to be gained through greater collaboration between stakeholders in the fintech ecosystem,” he said.

Toby Heap, AWI Ventures MD, said Australia was the perfect place for a fintech venture.

“This is being proven by early entrants into the market such as SocietyOne, Metamako and Stockspot,” he said. “Our aim is to provide an ecosystem of advice and support that empowers the brightest up and coming financial services executives to leave their often comfortable nests and start a new generation of world leading financial services organisations.”

SocietyOne co-founder and CEO Matt Symons agreed.

“The creation of the fintech hub is a huge milestone that demonstrates that the Government and the private sector are committed to working together to develop a thriving fintech community in Australia,” he said. “Innovation thrives in places where people can collaborate, develop ideas and execute quickly.”

The NSW Government is also providing support to set up Stone and Chalk via NSW Trade & Investment.