As he steps up to the role of chair of the board at FinTech Australia, Alan Tsen says we’re in a “perfect storm” for fintechs.
This is the second term on the board for Tsen, who is general manager of Melbourne fintech hub Stone & Chalk and founder and chief executive of Fintech Victoria.
However it’s his first stint as chair, a position he tells StartupSmart is “incredibly daunting because of the chairs who sat before me”.
He says: “I’m excited, but they’re very big shoes to fill.”
That said, he’s already hitting the ground running, with a renewed focus on engaging with the fintech community, promoting members’ activities, and ensuring they represent their views as they push the industry to a wider audience.
Tsen says: “As an industry, there are many things that need to be communicated. As an industry, we need a voice, and that’s what we provide.”
Fintech – that is, applying technology to finance – is not in itself a new industry, he says. What is new are the startups.
“Financial services touch everyone, “ he says. “These are just different providers.”
New providers are disrupting the traditional industry, providing cheaper, more effective or more efficient services, Tsen says. And it’s the perfect time to be doing so.
Perfect storm brewing
There’s a “perfect storm” on the horizon, he says.
“We’re seeing a number of things coming together that are going to make the financial services landscape ripe for disruption.”
The Royal Commission investigation into misconduct in banking; changes to authorised deposit-taking institution licensing; and the advent of ‘open’ banking; and the launch of the New Payments Platform are all making it easier for startups to emerge and scale.
But, Tsen says: “Regulatory challenges are still there.”
Despite the federal government being able to “change at a relatively brisk pace”, there are still very specific rules for fintech startups have to consider, which can act as an extra barrier, he says.
“Amplifying the voice of our members is what we’re about,” Tsen says. “That’s important not only for the industry, but also at an individual level.”
FinTech Australia can make the case, collectively, “for startups that want to be doing interesting and meaningful things”.
Tsen adds: “Singular voices are always a little less loud.”
For fintech startup founders, Tsen has one piece of advice, and that is simply to never give up.
Speaking from experience, he says: “It’s a hard road to build a company. It takes a lot longer, and it’s a lot harder than what you can imagine.”
“You have to have the grit and perseverance to keep going,” he says. “The company dies when the founders give up.”