With the endorsement of NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Victor Dominello, Ian Dunbar’s portal-come-community for Australian and New Zealand fintech, called Afiniation, was formally launched last week.
A mix of more than 50 start-up hopefuls and established players crammed into the NSW Department of Industry’s offices in Sydney’s MLC Centre to hear Dunbar, who launched his fintech consulting business, Findigital, earlier this year after a career in investment banking, introduce Dominello and announce his first event, the Afiniation Showcase, where 30 start-ups will present, TED style, for seven minutes each at the Ivy Ballroom on September 24.
It was easier to find out what was happening in the US or Europe fintech sectors than in Australia, Dunbar said – hence the need for a web and physical community interaction platform such as Afiniation.
Dominello, who took up the new ministerial post in April, said: “Fintech is ripe for development. You need a voice and that’s what Afiniation does.” NSW had turned the corner over the last four years and had “real vision and a blue print for growth”, he said.
Ben Heap, the former chief executive of Australian Wealth Investments who bought out that firm’s fintech incubation business H2 Ventures this year, said that an “eco system” was the key to a vibrant fintech sector. “An individual start-up can only achieve so much.”
Citing Wellington, New Zealand, as an example, Heap said the success of the locally based Xero cloud-based accounting software business had spawned tens of businesses in the city. “That’s what we need to see in this market,” he said.
Donald Hellyer, another former banker and director of robo-advice company Big Future, said: “We’re at the stage where we have more to gain from collaboration than we have to lose… I certainly agree that financial services are ripe for disruption.”
Afiniation is developing a range of communications services including Afiniation Nucleus, which will allow start-ups to showcase their work, Afiniation Spotlight, which organizes regular events, and a newsletter and media service to help promote members.
New Zealand-born Dunbar said he wanted to also build a fintech industry body to represent the interests of members in the social, regulatory and economic frameworks that govern the industry in the region.
* Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)