FinTech Australia has appointed investor and finance executive Andrew Porter as its new chief executive. Mr Porter, a 20-year industry veteran who advises several local FinTech’s boards, said reconnecting the industry and international markets will be a priority.
The industry body representing hundreds of Australian FinTech startups announced Mr Porter’s appointment on Monday. He replaces Rebecca Schot-Guppy, who left in November for large insurer IAG after more than two years as FinTech Australia chief executive.
Mr Porter joins the group representing companies like Wise, tic:toc and Volt Bank in the lead up to an election and federal budget, and will be looking at potential reforms that address areas like new payments technology, cryptocurrency and blockchain.
“I’m keen to see the continuation of our work to really place Australia as a leading FinTech hub, and a place for building amazing businesses that we can take out to the world and grow as we’ve seen happen numerous times over the last few years,” Mr Porter told InnovationAus in his first interview in the role.
It is clear the pandemic restrictions have had an impact on the local sector’s ability to share advice and support, Mr Porter said, flagging more face to face events as a priority where possible.
“When you can really touch base with other participants who have gone through the same issues, it’s a really great way of finding answers to problems or meeting people that can come in and really help you in your business, be it at any stage, or any issue in terms of building – founding, scaling, or growing internationally.”
Mr Porter spent seven years as Australian managing director of WorldFirst, a UK payments company that was later acquired by Chinese giant Ant Financial. He went on to investment executive roles and holds personal stakes in several local FinTechs.
He is currently a board advisor to and investor in CryptoSpend, a Sydney based payments startup that facilitates cryptocurrency transactions.
The rise of decentralised finance and in particular blockchain technologies presents very real challenges and opportunities to Australian FinTechs, Mr Porter said.
“There’s going to be some great challenges for some of the businesses in terms of what they do going forward and how they adopt that innovation or whether they do or not,” he said.
‘Debanking’ also remains a significant issue for the local sector, Mr Porter said, and will be another focus after being raised with lawmakers last year.
Government senator and chair of last year’s FinTech inquiry Andrew Bragg flagged a “Liberal solution” for debanking, which he said had become “rampant”.
Mr Porter said he has firsthand experience of being debanked, the practice where typically a bank cuts off banking services to a FinTech, sometimes without clear reasons.
“I’ve been there. I’ve had those meetings, had those rejections and I think there’s certainly got to be work done … Senator Bragg has done some fantastic work in highlighting that and really bringing it to the fore. Hopefully, something beneficial can come out that will help drive some change in that area because I think it’s long overdue.”
Talent, networking and education are also a challenge for the local FinTech industry, with borders largely shut for two years and a long-standing lack of career pathways training for financial technology, Mr Porter said.
The new FinTech Australia chief executive also wants to draw on his experience of bringing FinTechs to new markets to support local companies expansions into leading markets like Singapore and the UK.
“I’ll be putting a lot of focus in building strong partnerships between similar organisations overseas, as well as governments and regulatory bodies overseas by having those discussions to try and make it easier for Aussie businesses to expand.
“I know what it’s like, trying to piece it all together and doing it yourself can be very hard.”
FinTech Australia chair Simone Joyce welcomed the new chief executive, saying it marked the industry body’s next phase in guiding FinTech growth.
“Andrew’s long-running expertise in startups, fintech, and also cryptocurrency made him an ideal candidate to take up the reins and lead the organisation into the future,” Ms Joyce said.
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