From new players in the buy-now-pay-later space, to startups seeking to transform how debt collection and mortgage broking are done, Australian fintechs have shown little sign of slowing down over the past five months.
The world has been in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet, Australian fintechs have continued to raise millions of dollars.
In fact, for some, the coronavirus pandemic has actually fast-tracked the need for the very solutions they are working on.
Many of these startups are now armed with fresh capital to continue this work, and position themselves to take advantage of what Fintech Australia chief executive Rebecca Schot-Guppy says will be the “real opportunity for fintechs in the post-recovery, as we progress to a digital economy”.
Which fintechs do we have our eyes on? Here are 10 Australian fintechs that have raised millions since the start of March.
In July, buy-now-pay-later platform Payright raised $12 million in an oversubscribed capital raise, bringing its total funding to $60 million within just 18 months.
Co-founded by brothers Myles and Piers Redwood, Payright offers a buy-now-pay-later solution for bigger ticket items, priced between $1,000 and $20,000.
Over the past 12 months, Payright has more than doubled its customer base and an average of 200 merchants have joined each month. The startup has seen some of the strongest growth its had during the pandemic and Piers Redwood says it shows consumer behaviour is changing.
“Customers are feeling more comfortable with spending online, as well as spreading the costs of those large-ticket items over time, because they’ve had to,” Redward said.
Fast is building a one-click checkout for e-commerce businesses, akin to that offered by Amazon in the US and elsewhere.
Founded in March last year by Australian Domm Holland and co-founder Allison Barr-Allen, and based in Silicon Valley, Fast secured $28.6 million in Series A funding in March.
Speaking to SmartCompany last month, Holland said despite the many challenges of COVID-19, the market for Fast’s product has “basically doubled” in the space of three months.
“From a market perspective, 10 years’ worth of advancement has happened in three or four months,” he said.
In June, former Square executives Ben Pfisterer and Dominic Yap raised $6.3 million for their pre-launch, pre-product fintech Zeller.
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Speaking to SmartCompany, Pfisterer said the Australian fintech is setting out to create more up-to-date banking solutions for underserved small businesses — those businesses that sit somewhere between the very small, micro-businesses, and larger, enterprise operations.
“We’re seeing a huge amount of change on the consumer banking and retail banking side of things, but on the business side, just nothing has changed,” he said.
Founded in 2017, Perth-based fintech PictureWealth has gone from zero revenue to $20 million annually.
Headed up by co-founders Neal Cross and David Pettit, PictureWealth gives users a comprehensive picture of their total wealth, and helps them to improve upon that picture, by offering access to financial specialists on demand.
“We’re here to financially educate people. Our job is to make them financially happy,” explained co-founder Neil Cross.
In June, the startup raised $12 million in late seed funding and acquired financial services licensee business NEO Financial Solutions. The fresh funding means more acquisitions are on the cards, as is an expansion into Asia, as PictureWealth finds itself operating in a wealth market that has been ‘reshaped’ by the pandemic.
Founded in 2015, peer-to-peer mortgage marketplace Funding.com.au wants to become the market leader in short-term mortgages, and will use its latest $5 million in funding to help get there.
Funding.com.au is focused on disrupting the traditional mortgage experience by offering short-term, high-value mortgages, and access to mortgage investments that are typically out of reach of retail investors.
Speaking to SmartComany in May, founder and chief Jack O’Reilly said the mortgage industry had already been moving into the digital space, the virus has “bought it forward two or three years”. With that move comes the opportunity to improve the experience for those taking out a home loan, he said.
“We’re trying to make it stress-free, hassle-free and really enhance the experience.”
Australia’s buy-now-pay-later sector may be young by historical standards, but already, there are operators seeking to disrupt it. One of those is Limepay — a fintech that’s recently raised $6 million in funding.
Founded in 2017, Limepay is designed to allow e-commerce merchants to integrate an online payments platform with their own branding, and add their own buy-now-pay-later functionality too.
“We’re about the brand. We’re about fading into the background until we’re needed,” explained co-founder and chief Tim Dwyer.
“We’re trying to put that control back into the hands of merchants,” added chief revenue officer Dan Peters.
Also seeking to shake-up the financial services industry is Sydney-based fintech Verteva, which revealed in May it had secured $33 million in Series A funding as it prepares to launch its digitised home loan solution.
Still in the pre-revenue and product-build stage, Verteva plans to use preexisting data to speed up the home loan process.
“It’s more accurate, and allows us to create a much better experience, and removes the need for people to meet physically,” said co-founder and former Westpac executive Chris Lumby.
SME-focused neobank Judo Bank achieved unicorn status in May, after closing a massive $230 million funding round and becoming the first of the Aussie challenger banks to reach the coveted $1 billion valuation.
Founded in 2015 and launched in 2018, Judo started life as an alternative lender for SMEs. It secured its full banking licence in April last year, added additional banking services, and re-branded as Judo Bank.
Judo Bank co-founder and chief David Hornery describes the neobank’s proposition as “going back to relationship banking for small business, as it used to be done”, and says this is something that becomes vital during times of crisis.
“Relationship banking is something SMBs have cried out for for years,” Hornery told SmartCompany in May.
“In times like this, you get a real impetus to move away from what is fundamentally the industrialised offering of the major banks, to one that is actually very relational in its approach.”
Speaking of unicorns, payments platform Airwallex closed a massive $250 million Series D round in April this year, making it a unicorn almost three times over, with a valuation of $2.85 billion.
Founded in Melbourne in 2015 by Lucy Liu, Jack Zhang, Max Li and Xijing Dai, Airwallex cracked the unicorn club in March last year with its $141 million Series C raise.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Liu said since the Series C round, Airwallex has seen “extraordinary growth”, both in terms of its global coverage and its product offering, and the timing was right to raise more money, even as the pandemic started to take hold.
“We are a tech company,” Liu said.
“It’s not as challenging for us, compared to offline businesses.”
In early-March, Sydney startup InDebted secured $14 million in Series A funding, after growing its revenue by 300% over the previous 12 months.
Indebted is a technology platform designed to facilitate debt collection for businesses, while approaching the whole process in a more friendly way than is traditional.
However, co-founder and chief Josh Foreman told SmartCompany in March, the 60-strong Indebted team “see ourselves as way more than debt collection in the future”.
Foreman sees InDebted providing access to tools and services to help people access additional financial products, and better manage their finances.
“We’ve got a great funnel into that, which is this awesome collections product that we’ve built,” Foreman said.
“But the pipe dream sits much broader than that.”