New chief takes up FinTech’s funding fight

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

As investment in Australia’s FinTechs dries up, the sector’s peak group is juggling new ways to support its next generation to ride emerging areas like AI and sustainable finance while still pushing for regulatory change to help established firms scale.

Investment in local FinTechs fell from a startup sector wide high of $1.26 billion in 2022 to $330 million last year, as Australia’s startup sector took its biggest hit in years.

Rehan D’Almeida, who was promoted to chief executive of Fintech Australia last week in a shakeup of the not-for-profit peak group’s leadership, concedes the sector’s funding glory days may be behind it.

FinTech Australia CEO Rehan D’Almeida

“Fintech is no longer a hype industry. Everyone’s not talking about it as the next glorious industry that will bring lots of returns to investors and disrupt and change the industry in unknown ways,” he told

But FinTechs do have staying power, he says, as the technologies once considered the realm of nimble startups is now underpinning Australia’s payments infrastructure and financial systems, setting up the industry for sustainable growth.

“It’s now considered an industry that is extremely important. Every business or every consumer has been impacted by FinTech at some way or the other.”

New opportunities are still opening up for the next generation through artificial intelligence and ESG conscience consumers, Mr D’Almeida said. But the limited funding for early stage companies and later raises proving more difficult means founders need to “extend their runway for as long as possible”.

“FinTech is, unfortunately, a very expensive industry, because of the amount of regulation and compliance that they have to navigate through while they launch their business as well,” Mr  D’Almeida said.

“So it’s an industry that needs a lot more early stage investment for them to even launch their product. But its what makes it uniquely challenging and rewarding as well for the investors in the space.”

After years of policy contributions, FinTech Australia has now secured a friends of parliament group for the sector and has the ear of both government minister Stephen Jones and FinTech fan and NSW Liberal senator Andrew Bragg. But the pace of change in some policy areas is slow.

Mr D’Almeida, who served as general manager before the promotion, said he would continue pushing to reform regulations and resource regulators to minimise the burdens on the sector’s typically much smaller players.

The Consumer Data Right looms large for FinTechs. But a key change to the regime that would enable action initiation – the ability for FinTechs to act on behalf of consumers with their permission – is stuck.

A bill to enable the change was introduced in 2022 but has been stick in the Senate for over a year and wasn’t listed for debate last week by the Albanese government.

“I think the unique use cases and business models will be created when we have action initiation applied here in Australia,” Mr D’Almeida said.

“That would mean unique use cases of migrating consumers from one financial services product to another with just a click of a button, which would be so much more seamless and enable so much more competition an so much more innovation in the industry.”

Payments reforms are also a chance to spur the sector, Mr D’Almeida said, with a type of tiered licencing model that recognises specific types of transactions his preference.

“A FinTech that is building something unique and has 100 customers when they start to build their product needs to be regulated differently from a bank that has millions of customers… Being able to regulate that [difference] and get clarity to the industry will definitely help with more companies being created and for international companies that are looking at Australia.”

Elsewhere, the government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund could provide vital support to the sector through its $1 billion carve-out for enabling technologies, and tax incentives for investing in FinTechs could come through changes to early-stage venture capital limited partnerships conditions.

Mr D’Almeida said as private investment drops, the opportunity is getting bigger for governments to support the next generation and, importantly, keep them here.

“There are so many unique solutions being built in the industry and we want to ensure that we can see the next unicorn, the next successful company to launch in this area, grow in Australia. We don’t want companies grow and then find limitations and then leave to another market or be listed on another stock exchange.”

Other leadership changes announced by the group this month include experienced founder and investor Sarah Gorman being elected chair of FinTech Australia and Brian Collins appointed deputy chair.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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