Local finance tech start-up space booming but must be trend aware

An upcoming meet-up of financial technologies start-ups in Sydney will provide an opportunity for start-up operators working in the space to come together and discuss the unique challenges of the large financial services industry.


Kim Heras, founder of mentor-driven seed accelerator PushStart, told StartupSmart start-ups need to be aware of macro trends to give their business the best shot at success.


“Context matters, and a lot of Australian start-ups don’t get the full context of what’s happening in the global financial sector, but high level macro trends are really important,” says Heras, coordinator of the meet-up on July 16.


“Most start-ups are focused on a niche area and you can get pretty engrossed in launching your idea. But you need to step back and understand what broader trends are happening, particularly when those trends affect your potential customers, investors and acquirers.”


Heras says these final three sectors are where big corporate players who control the global financial industries are important.


“There is much better engagement by industry in this area (financial tech) compared to the more general tech start-up space. They’ve never really had a regular, structured conduit to the start-up community the way that they do now through the meet-up,” Heras says.


Heras says the growing number of start-ups in the space and the high level of engagement by corporates is due to the barriers to entry, such as the need to engage with major institutional players.


“The amount of regulation, that barrier to entry, is what’s creating opportunity for start-ups. What’s happening in heavily regulated industries with fewer players in the industry, like financial services, education and health, is that they provide customers with fewer choices. So these companies and industries don’t innovate like others do, so innovation has dropped and services haven’t improved,” Heras says, adding this is the perfect opportunity for trend-savvy start-ups.


He says the key trends at the moment are around alternative currencies, new payment systems – especially peer-to-peer payment – and how banks and their customers can use big data.


“Fin-tech start-ups are looking at the whole continuum. All the way from the smallest service to deep technology core banking issues that the consumer probably won’t ever see, but are critical to how society works, such as confirming identity,” Heras says.


The meet-up is focused on big data, with Neil Soderlund, the Boston Consulting Group partner responsible for big data in Australia, scheduled to speak.


Heras says the events are usually attended by 80 to 100 people, at a range of industry locations. The meet-up will be held in The Rocks, at financial research and innovation organisation SIRCA’s new offices.


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