The Kiwi Wealth-owned platform smoothing access for New Zealanders to the US share market was voted best-in-show at the country’s third annual fintech conference last week.
Hatch, which has transacted over $2 million since launch this October, secured 36 per cent of the NZ Fintech Summit crowd vote in the Xero start-up competition – enough to secure it top spot among a field of contenders including insurance, digital payments, ethical investing and financial product comparison tools.
Previously known as Finnotec, the NZ Fintech Summit this year attracted 210 delegates to the Pullman Hotel in Auckland with threats, opportunities and hors d’oeuvres on the table.
While the conference broached a range of topics, open banking and payments innovations topped the agenda with both garnering enthusiastic support from Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi in a televised message to the people.
Faafoi, forced to abandon a scheduled personal appearance due to government duties, said open banking represented a “big opportunity” for fintech providers and NZ consumers.
He said the government should have further guidance on open banking and new payments systems by the middle of next year. However, the NZ government was unlikely to follow the UK lead and legislate for incumbent banks to release customer data to fintech agitators.
While there was a “role for government”, Faafoi said “my preference is to work collaboratively” with the banking and fintech industries to develop solutions.
He said the government could help set rules around how to manage implementation of open banking and data security.
Open banking was also served as the topic du jour in the closing panel session. Maxine Elliot, head of product and marketing for NZ payments operator, Paymark, told the fintech crowd that regulation may not be the best way to introduce open banking into NZ.
“I’m not sure we need regulation,” Elliot said. “The downside [of regulation] is that it can be expensive and squash innovation.”
Ossie Amir, co-founder of NZ payments app, Choice, agreed that regulation might stifle the open banking movement. Amir said following regulation in the UK “banks hate fintechs, and the fintechs hate banks”.
“In NZ we can [introduce open banking] in a bottom-up way if we can agree on shared principles,” he said.
Hosted by Finnotec founder, Binu Paul, and NZ Fintech head, James Brown, the conference closed with Xero small business leader, Nicole Buisson, dishing out the start-up award to Hatch.
Buisson also said Xero was looking to fast-track the fintech revolution in NZ by introducing offshore innovators to the local market.
Late in November Xero signed up three UK fintechs as inaugural tenants for its Rewired ‘co-working space’ in the elite Auckland suburb of Parnell. The UK fintech trio includes: business analytics firm, Futurli; payments service, GoCardless; and, digital bank, Revolut.