FinTech Australia’s new chair said this year is “pivotal” for the local sector as it looks to build on last year’s momentum and the upcoming Royal Commission into the big banks.
Melbourne-based co-founder and CEO of MoneyPlace Stuart Stoyan was announced as the industry group’s new chair last week, replacing founding chair Simon Cant, who decided to step down.
Mr Stoyan was a member of FinTech Australia’s founding committee in late 2015 and is a member of Treasury’s Fintech Advisory Group. He will serve as the organisation’s acting chair until June 2018, when new board elections will be held.
This year will be crucial for the growth of the Australian fintech sector as it aims to capitalise on the recent growth in political support, Mr Stoyan said.
“Last year was a watershed year for the fintech community. We want that tremendous momentum to continue on into 2018. We’ve seen fintech become a very key industry for Treasury – if innovation was a focus two years ago, that has narrowed to be fintech. That’s both a recognition of the work that has been done by the team and by the fintech community itself,” Mr Stoyan told InnovationAus.com.
“What’s so important is the timing; this is a pivotal time for fintech in Australia. This is business as usual for FinTech Australia. In terms of vision and objectives, it’s same, same but different.”
He said that the upcoming Royal Commission into the big banks could provide huge opportunities to the fintech sector, and should include a focus on pro-competition reforms.
FinTech Australia’s policy priorities under Mr Stoyan will include pushing for open financial data framework to be created in a way that “empowers customers and brings a new wave of fintech innovation and competition”, opportunities for fintechs to make use of the imminent New Payments Platform, and to continue to advocate for initiatives to increase access to suitable talent for the fintech industry.
FinTech Australia was launched in November 2015, and enjoys a level of influence within the federal government’s fintech movements. Its initial reform priorities paper in early 2016 informed the government’s own Backing Australian Fintech Policy, and it also led to the establishment of the Treasurer’s Fintech Advisory Group.
The federal government focused significantly on fintech last year, with a number of reforms and new policies including forcing big banks to open up customer data for fintechs, updates to investor incentives to include fintech startups, and amendments to equity crowdfunding rules.
Mr Cant said that his growing workload with VC firm Reinventure meant he was no longer able to devote the necessary time to FinTech Australia. He will be staying on the organisation’s board, and remaining a member of the government’s Fintech Advisory Group.
“It’s been an honour to lead the launch of FinTech Australia and, with the support of a committed team led by Danielle Szetho and a dedicated group of fintech founders as my board colleagues, guide its rapid growth over the last two years,” he said.
“It’s been an amazing journey to date and I am sure the organisation’s evolution will continue under Stuart’s able guidance, supporting the continuing growth and maturity of the fintech industry.”
Shadow minister for the digital economy Ed Husic issued a statement welcoming Mr Stoyan’s appointment, saying that he can “speak with a great deal of authority about the policies that will help our local fintech sector”.
“I look forward to working with Stuart and getting his views on what’s needed to grow Australia’s fintech sector in the years ahead. The dynamism of Australia’s fintech sector is recognised internationally – and FinTech Australia has championed policies to ensure the sector maintains this standing,” Mr Husic said.
“Ultimately many of Australia’s fintech players want to give consumers a better deal by injecting much needed competition into the financial services sector – it’s important to see them do well.”
Mr Husic has previously criticised FinTech Australia for potentially “muzzling” itself by taking federal government funding. After FinTech Australia broadly supported the federal government’s controversial equity crowdfunding bill, which restricted the funding route to unlisted public companies, Mr Husic questioned the organisation’s independence after it received a $200,000 federal government grant to lead an “international PR campaign” to promote local fintechs.
FinTech Australia CEO Danielle Szetho said Mr Husic’s comments were “unfair and inaccurate”.