Hello to everyone gathered in Sydney for today’s Future of Financial Services conference.
Let me start with my sincere apologies for not being able to make it in person. Unfortunately, I’m stuck here at Parliament House dealing with legislation in the Senate. They’re a demanding bunch, those crossbenchers – and at times like this, there’s no escape!
It is truly an honour to be opening this conference. I have proudly worked in financial services nearly all my professional life, and it is a sector that has long been at the forefront of Australia’s growth story – and we all want to keep it there. In fact, restoring trust in Australia's financial system is a key part of the Morrison Government's economic plan.
Today I want to focus on the next frontier in financial services, the digital ecosystem – and particularly fintech – and what the future holds for financial professionals.
The uptake of fintech is a good news story for consumers, for the Australian economy and for financial services in general.
As Australia’s first minister for fintech, I am committed to supporting an Australian fintech ecosystem that is internationally competitive, and internationally collaborative.
I’ve just returned from speaking at the Singapore Fintech Festival, and I’ve been incredibly impressed with the enthusiasm and interest from overseas in what we’re doing here.
We have a unique advantage here in Australia: our fintech product offerings are diverse, and we have tremendous organic growth. Three quarters of Australian fintechs are post-revenue, and one quarter of those companies have year-on-year growth of over 300%. It has quickly become a mature industry, with a strong culture of collaboration with both challengers and incumbents.
It’s also a globally focused ecosystem. This year, over half of Australian fintechs are focusing on expanding overseas, and over 40% already have an international presence. You’ll recognise many of the rising stars – Airwallex, Afterpay, Judo Bank and Athena Home Loans are just some of those featured in this year’s Fintech100; and there are so many more who are working with the world’s foremost banks and governments.
There has never been a greater supporter of Australian fintech than this Government, and particularly this Prime Minister, for whom fintech is a personal passion.
The fact that fintech has been specifically identified in a Treasury portfolio should speak volumes of the value and potential we see in the sector.
Our job in Government is not to do the work of the private sector, but to provide the platforms and support that businesses like you need along the way – to help Australians be more engaged with their finances, and drive competition across the financial services sector.
Over the last four years, the Coalition’s policy agenda laid the groundwork for this new direction.
From angel and venture capital tax changes which encourage early-stage investments in innovative start-ups, to equity crowdfunding which has opened up funding avenues for fintechs that never existed previously.
From there, we’ve removed double taxation on digital currencies; and the New Payments Platform has launched to support instant inter-bank payments.
The Australia-UK Fintech Bridge is helping Australian fintechs enter the UK market, and helping us benefit from the capital, skills and products that UK firms are bringing here.
The year ahead is about building on those achievements; encouraging fintech adoption, improving access to talent and capital, and strengthening global links with other fintech ecosystems to open new markets and opportunities.
In Singapore this week, I’ve been in discussions with ministers and regulators about how we can help grow our two countries’ fintech relationship, how we can work collaboratively for mutual benefit. I look forward to engaging further with all the global fintech hubs who want to learn from and work with the Australian ecosystem.
We also want to encourage new entrants with new ideas. This is the thinking behind the enhanced regulatory sandbox. When passed by Parliament, this will allow more fintechs to test a wider range of new financial products for longer, prior to seeking licenses from ASIC.
ASIC itself has been ramping up its engagement. I enjoyed seeing the results of its latest regtech trial, applying voice recognition to industry operations. The application of these ideas will be game-changing, and I look forward to seeing a range of further initiatives from ASIC and the other regulators.
One of the most important policy changes that is already underway is the introduction of the Consumer Data Right – which passed the Parliament in August. This initiative empowers consumers like never before – opening the door to better and more convenient products and services, customised to their needs.
Starting with Open Banking early next year, I think the CDR is the one of the most transformative and world-leading initiatives that the financial services sector has ever seen.
And it reflects how building a world-leading fintech ecosystem is a key priority for the Morrison Government.
Australia is at the cutting edge. You are working with products and services that have enormous potential — the sky is the limit, your enthusiasm is contagious, and I’m so excited to see what more we can achieve together.
As I said at the outset, a strong financial sector benefits all Australians.
We all want to see an improved financial system – efficient, cost-effective and consumer-focused. Investing in the future of Australia's financial system is a key part of the Morrison Government's economic plan.
The calibre of speakers at the conference today demonstrates how much value you all place on the future of financial services too.
Over the next two days, you’ll hear from a range of perspectives from the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac Group, ANZ, Suncorp Group, Bank of Queensland, DBS Bank from Singapore and WeBank from China. Enjoy getting to know each other. Our businesses may be different, but our goals are the same.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak to you. I wish you all the best for the next couple of days.