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Australia’s startup scene is finally setting its sights on China

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Fishburners is heading to Shanghai.
Fishburners is heading to Shanghai.
Image: Getty Images

While much of the Australian startup scene is attempting a Silicon Valley redux, only with far less people and more sunshine, a number of key players are looking to China. 

On Thursday, the startup hub Fishburners announced it would be launching its first overseas office in Shanghai this month. The company currently hosts around 170 startups in Sydney, and the Shanghai space will have 50 desks to start with, CEO of Fishburners, Murray Hurps told Mashable Australia

It will act as an outpost of the current Fishburners community, he added, and as a supportive landing pad for startups looking to investigate the Chinese market.

“If you’re in a group of startups in Australia and you’d like to go to China to try addressing a market or address an investor, it’s nice to be able to do it with those other startups,” he said. 

Hurps also hopes interest will flow in reverse, resulting in new partnerships. Having a hub in China signals to the community that Australia is eager to talk, he suggested, whether to investors or other startups. “There are so many opportunities in Australia. For example, agricultural technology, smart city technology — where there are also great things happening in China.”

Fishburners' Shanghai office.

Fishburners’ Shanghai office.

Image: Fishburners

The Sydney financial technology hub, Stone & Chalk also announced the first three startups to participate in its FinTech Asia incubation exchange Wednesday. The Chinese startups, selected after a final pitchfest in Shanghai, will be given a three-month residency in Australia along with local mentorship and investor meetings.

Stone & Chalk CEO Alex Scandurra told Mashable Australia the organisation hopes to be a leading fintech hub in Asia, and such partnerships will be key.

“You’ve also got to be able to attract the best talent,” he said. “The whole idea is providing mentorship, hooking them up with investors, putting them in front of our partners, so hopefully there’s potential for them to stay and use this as stepping stone to the U.S. and Europe.”

Stone & Chalk also took 10 Australian fintech startups to China in April to give them a crash course in what it’s like to do business there. Scandurra said for the moment, he doesn’t see the need to open a stand-alone Stone & Chalk space in China. 

The Australian government will be providing landing pads for Australian startups in five cities including Shanghai as part of an initiative announced earlier in the year.

Are we a little late?

For all the excitement about Australian startups making it on the West Coast, China may have been a little neglected.

In Hurps view, Australia isn’t late to the China party, but could it be doing better.

Most importantly, Australia’s startup scene is often too inward-looking. “People tend to go up to the markets that they know well,” he explained. “They’ll solve their own problems, and they’ll do it in a local market. Australia is dangerous because it’s just big enough that you can have a big interesting company but not a globally scalable company.”

“Australia is dangerous because it’s just big enough that you can have a big interesting company but not a globally scalable company.”

In his view, we need to not just say “China is big.”

“Say they’re doing wonderful things around smart city initiatives or around clean technology, and here are companies that would like to talk to Australian startups with that kind of technology,” he explained.

According to Scandurra, the Australian startup community is now able to approach China in a manner that wasn’t possible before. “The free trade agreement makes a big difference,” he said. “It makes the posture of the governments in China much more receptive.” The China Australia Free Trade Agreement took effect in Dec. 2015.

China is not the only focus, however. Stone & Chalk has struck partnerships with Korean fintech groups, Korean Fintech Centre and Yello Financial Group, as well as engaging in some early discussions in Singapore.

“I don’t think there’s one market and that’s it. It depends on the type of startup you are and which market is the right fit. That should trump any trends in China,” he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets staff during a visit to the FinTech start up Stone and Chalk in Sydney.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets staff during a visit to the FinTech start up Stone and Chalk in Sydney.

Image: AAPIMAGE

After all, it’s not that simple to cross borders and launch into China. He advised the startup community to continue building bridges, but with care. “I’d encourage them to reach out, and make sure they’re clear in terms of the risks. 

“You can burn a lot of time, and time is money … To be honest, one of the key things we learnt in China is the complexity of the market and the dynamics in terms of relationships. You have to partner with the right people and organisations.”
 

Source: https://mashable.com/2016/08/03/australia-startups-china/

AI

Why the mortgage broking industry needs to embrace rather than fear AI

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For a sector that relies so heavily on the kind of repetitive work artificial intelligence was built for, the mortgage broking industry has been a shockingly slow adopter of AI, says Effi CEO, Mandeep Sodhi.

Perhaps this is because many in the industry still see it has a threat rather than an aid.

Deloitte’s 2020 Australian Mortgage report found almost half of respondents considered robo-advice and AI to be a major challenge to brokers.

This distrust of AI is robbing the mortgage broking industry of a valuable tool. It’s an attitude that needs to change fast if the valuable service brokers provide is to remain relevant.

In fact, mortgage broking is perfect positioned for benefit hugely from AI. No matter how smart artificial intelligence becomes it will never be able to replace the kind of valuable human to human interaction and understanding a mortgage broker can provide but, what it can do is take on the repetitive grunt work that saps time and energy from those interactions. This means more time can be taken getting to know a client really well enabling a broker to understand their need intricately so they can provide the best possible service for that client.

AI can also streamline and automate processes that take up client’s time like filling in numerous and repetitive forms and waiting on phone calls to scheduled meetings. This means that clients have more time to convey their needs to their broker and to get to know them.

The end result is a closer, more valuable relationship between brokers and clients. Developing this kind of relationship that means clients are comfortable picking up the phone to ask their broker questions or seek further advice and the broker has the time to answer them thoughtfully and thoroughly.

Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/why-the-mortgage-broking-industry-needs-to-embrace-rather-than-fear-ai/

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Singapore Leads the Way As Stock Exchanges in Asia Pacific Are Embracing DLT

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Across Asia Pacific, stock exchanges have accelerated the adoption of smart contract technology and DLT to optimize market workflows.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is looking to replace its Clearing House Electronic SubRegister System, or CHESS, with new DLT and smart contract-based infrastructure, an upgrade  that is expected to bring a host of benefits, such as more control for issuers and investors, cost efficiency and enhanced security.

In Hong Kong, local bourse operator HKEX is considering applying smart contract technology to its Stock Connect program to simplify the transaction process of stock trading between the special administrative region (SAR) and mainland China.

And in Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) began exploring the use of blockchain and DLT as an alternative to existing clearing and settlement systems in 2016.

SGX issues S$400 million digital bond

Across the region, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) is paving the way forward in the region’s bond market, embracing the use of smart contracts and distributed ledger technology (DLT) to streamline processes, improve efficiencies and reduce associated costs.

In September, SGX, one of the largest equities and derivatives in Asia, completed its first digital bond issuance on its digital asset issuance, depository and servicing platform, an Asia first for a syndicated public corporate bond, and another milestone in SGX’s use of digital asset technology.

Lee Beng Hong, senior managing director and head of fixed income, currencies and commodities at SGX, said the exchange was now moving to “fully digitalize the end-to-end corporate bond issuance” and build a full-stack digital infrastructure focused on Asia fixed income.

The pilot was conducted in partnership with HSBC Singapore and Temasek, a collaboration initially announced in November 2019.

In a blog post, HSBC said that several of its teams helped develop the process for the issuance of the digital bonds, or tokenized securities, on SGX’s DLT-enabled platform. The digitalized bond issuance process achieved a reduction in total settlement time from five days down to just two, enabled automation of issuance flows and coupons, and redemption payments, and overall, significantly improved processes.

Digital Asset Issuance Platform, Illustration via SGX.com

A leader in blockchain tech and crypto assets

Singapore is rapidly emerging as a global leader in blockchain technology and crypto assets. The 2019 Singapore Blockchain Landscape Map showed a subset of over 500 companies and entities with blockchain as their primary business or significantly engaging in distributed technology.

DBS, the country’s largest bank, is currently working on a digital currency exchange. A version of the web page of the DBS Digital Exchange, which was briefly made public in October before being taken down, said that the exchange will list four top cryptocurrencies, bitcoin, ether, ripple and bitcoin cash, against multiple fiat currencies including SGD, USD, HKD and JPY.

The exchange will also allow small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and corporates to raise capital via security tokens, allowing them to digitalize their securities and assets.

The DBS Digital Exchange will not hold any of the digital asset. Instead, they will be kept with the banking arm of DBS via an institutional-grade custody solution called DBS Digital Custody.

Only financial institutions and professional market makers will be permitted as members. Individual investors will only be able to access the platform via a member, for example, DBS Private Bank.

A spokesperson for the bank said in late October that DBS was still in the process of seeking regulatory approval.

Featured image credit: Screengrab from Youtube

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Source: https://fintechnews.sg/45340/blockchain/singapore-leads-the-way-as-stock-exchanges-in-asia-pacific-are-embracing-dlt/

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Fintech

Novatti partners with leading global card payment company UnionPay

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ASX-listed Australian fintech company Novatti Group Limited, a leading digital banking and payments company, has partnered with leading global card payment company, UnionPay.

UnionPay has more than 8.4b cards issued globally and a network spanning 179 countries and regions, highlighting its immense scale.1 In Australia alone, UnionPay is accepted by 90% of ATMs, 85% of point of sale terminals, and by major retailers such as Coles and Target.2

The partnership with UnionPay will drive growth in Novatti’s core payment processing business, with Novatti appointed as a UnionPay acquirer, providing UnionPay customers with access to Novatti’s merchant and transaction services across Australia.

The partnership will benefit other Novatti businesses, including ChinaPayments, Novatti’s China-focused, cross-border payments platform, which enables Chinese residents to pay Australian bills in Chinese currency. UnionPay has already been integrated into ChinaPayments, with transactions using UnionPay accounts already taking place. Further, ChinaPayments will shortly be integrated into the UnionPay app, providing eligible UnionPay users with direct access to ChinaPayments.

The partnership with UnionPay adds to Novatti’s growing list of tier-one global partners, including Visa, Alipay, WeChat Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Marqeta, and Decta. Growing commercial relationships and payments processing networks with these major partners underpins a core pillar of Novatti’s long-term revenue growth strategy, leveraging Novatti’s existing platforms and infrastructure to deliver more services and gain a greater share of wallets with our customers.

Managing Director of Novatti, Peter Cook, said, ‘We are thrilled to be partnering with UnionPay, a leading global card payment company. Through this partnership, Novatti will drive continued growth in our payment processing business, delivering further value from our existing platforms and technology.’


1. UnionPay International – https://www.unionpayintl.com/en/aboutUs/companyProfile/introductiontoUPI/ & https://m.unionpayintl.com/wap/en/mediaCenter/newsCenter/marketUpdate/7157.shtml

2. UnionPay International – https://m.unionpayintl.com/wap/en/mediaCenter/newsCenter/marketUpdate/6932.shtml

Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/novatti-partners-with-leading-global-card-payment-company-unionpay/

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Swoop heads for Australia – Tim Brown appointed CEO

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Swoop, the fast-growing finance platform that enables small and medium sized businesses to access funding, is spreading its wings and coming to Australia after its initial runaway success in the UK and Ireland. The company has appointed Tim Brown as CEO of its new Australian venture, its first international expansion.

Known for his achievements in launching and growing new businesses, Tim who was previously CEO of Ezifin Financial Services Ltd, CEO of Vow Financial and Chair of the Mortgage Finance Association of Australia (2013-15) will be responsible for the company’s growth in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Tim Brown commented, “I’m excited to be developing a business that has already proved its worth in the UK and Ireland, and I’m certain that Swoop will be invaluable to Australian companies that are looking to raise or save money. I look forward to growing our team with technical and funding specialists.”

Launched in the UK and Ireland in 2018, Swoop provides access to funding across equity, grants and loans as well as identifying how businesses can make savings, in essence operating as a single and integrated hub for financial management and planning. Functioning as a virtual chief financial officer, Swoop helps thousands of businesses achieve better financial health.

Swoop has much to offer across Australia, where small businesses are the backbone of the economy and there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Although Australia has a vigorous and growing alternative finance marketplace, it is fragmented and difficult to navigate. Swoop’s platform will provide the cohesion and focus that is lacking, helping businesses to find the best options now that they have more choice thanks to the arrival of open banking in 2020.

Geography is another obstacle that Swoop overcomes. Because Swoop is a fintech platform with a powerful search algorithm, it provides everything in one place. Businesses can receive all the financial resources, information and advice they need right at their front door. No travel, no fruitless searches, no time-wasting: everything is filtered to the precise requirements of the business, whatever its location, whatever the sector.

Tim added, “Another benefit to the Swoop platform is that, until now, there have been few opportunities to introduce Australian businesses to global investors in a smooth and structured way. Swoop eases the path to finance and makes connections that would otherwise go undiscovered”.

Scott Patterson, Senior Fintech Market Advisor for Enterprise Ireland who is supporting Swoop’s entry into Australia commented, “We are delighted that Swoop’s global expansion is commencing in the Australian market, which follows success in the UK and Ireland where they have forged a market-leading reputation for simplifying and supporting SME access to credit. Swoop’s innovative platform is a game-changer for Australian SMEs”.

Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/swoop-heads-for-australia-tim-brown-appointed-ceo/

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