Interview: Australia-China fintech links moving forward

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-01 18:53:03|Editor: Mengjie
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by Matt Walsh

CANBERRA, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Two-way trade between Australia and China is being typified by the growth in the financial technology (fintech) sector after Australian start-up Airwallex said it raised 13 million U.S. dollars from backers - including from China - to help fund its business.

The total funding for Airwallex reaches 16 million U.S. dollars as the company had already raised 3 million U.S. dollars in the pre-Series A round last year.

The development, announced by FinTech Australia, will allow Airwallex to enable businesses to make faster, easier and cheaper worldwide payments, and is the latest example of Australian and Chinese cooperation in the fintech sector.

Danielle Szetho, CEO of FinTech Australia - the peak body for fintech in the nation - said recent development in Australian fintech have typified the bilateral trade trends between the two nations.

She said Australia's "thriving" fintech scene is backed by one of most "highly-regarded financial regulatory systems in the world," adding that potential Chinese investors have a lot to gain from taking a closer look at the Australian fintech market.

"This means Australian fintech companies have a great reputation for producing innovative and trusted fintech products in areas such as wealth creation, peer-to-peer lending, payments and cyber security, along with taking advantage of blockchain technology," Szetho said in a statement released on Monday.

"We think that Chinese investors have a lot to gain from taking a close look at the Australian fintech environment and what it has to offer. In addition, we think Chinese consumers and businesses will increasingly get to know the major benefits of Australian fintech products."

She said that a number of thriving Chinee businesses - such as e-commerce giant Alibaba - were expanding their operations into Australia as a result of the local government's willingness to embrace fintech.

"We're also excited to see that Chinese fintech firms are also beginning to establish bases in Australia, given Australia's world record for uninterrupted economic growth and the long-standing cultural links between the two countries," Szetho said.

"As a market well known for its early adoption of technology and 'fintech-friendly by design' regulation, Australia also represents a great test market for new Chinese fintechs looking to expand into western markets.

"Australia has a relatively small venture capital market by world standards, which provides an attractive and new opportunity for inbound Chinese investment."

Australia is best known for its resources exports to China and there is no reason why it shouldn't be able to also export some of its trusted and innovative fintech product, according to Szetho.

However it's not just Chinese backers which are moving to Australia or funding Australian start-ups; Australian fintechs such as CrowdfundUP and Novatti are also actively pursuing big moves into the Chinese market.

Novatti is an alternative mobile payment platform which enables Australians to accept payments from Chinese apps such as WeChat and AliPay, and has recently launched a subsidiary called China Payments, which it hopes will flourish in the Chinese market.

Novatti CEO Peter Cook said China provides a "huge opportunity" for his business to expand.

"Our China Payments subsidiary is actively involved in promoting new types of wallets from China for cross border transactions that help drive sales for Australian exporters and retail stores," Cook said on Monday.

"These new types of overseas wallets are allowing a lot more innovation and margin control, innovation and flexibility."

He said China Payments has noticed with its merchants that they quickly gain new consumers and businesses from China once they bring on these new payment methods.

"China Payments is actively helping financial institutions in Australia deploy some of these services, helping innovation and growing businesses."

Meanwhile CrowdfundUP Managing Director, Jack Quigley said his company was "actively pursuing" opportunities to "tap into" China's massive population, by using the "landing pad" established by the Australian government through the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

"We have strong partnerships with Chinese businesses underway as we believe collaboration with the local players is the best way to learn the intricacies of the market," Quigley said.

"China is a major player in the global fintech landscape and we've found they are just as excited by the prospect of learning more about Australia's sophisticated financial services sector."

The world's largest e-commerce retailer, Alibaba, opened its Australian headquarters in February, and teamed up with Australia Post to fight counterfeit food fraud, while a trade mission involving eight Australian fintech companies visited China in March.