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Address to the International FinTech Conference, London, United Kingdom



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Address to the International FinTech Conference, London, United Kingdom sjm.ministers.treasury.gov.au/speech/004-2018

22 March 2018

Speech Thank you Chancellor for that warm introduction.

It’s great to be here to talk about the close relationship that exists between Australia and the UK.

And today we commit to even closer collaboration through the official signing of the UK - Australia FinTech Bridge.

In the true sense of the word, the Bridge helps us overcome obstacles, enabling closer partnerships between governments, our regulators and the FinTech industry.

Under the FinTech Bridge we will work to identify emerging trends, share policy developments and position firms for the challenges of entering a foreign market.

Importantly it presents FinTech firms on both sides of the Bridge with a fast track to pursue international expansion and hit the ground running.

Australia’s significant relationship with the UK is underpinned by our shared heritage, common values, closely aligned strategic outlook and interests.

We are like-minded on pressing global issues, including international security, the need to keep the doors open to trade, multilateral cooperation and pro-growth economics.

Our economic and trade bonds, forged over decades, is an enduring feature of our relationship, with the UK Australia’s fifth largest two-way trading partner, our fifth largest export market and our sixth largest source of imports.

Two-way trade was worth over $29 billion in 2016.

The opening of new opportunities in the FinTech sector through this Bridge will not only bolster this strong trade relationship.

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It will provide exciting new opportunities for trade and investment into the future, in an ever increasingly digital world where innovation and competitive edge are paramount.

Australian FinTech firms will have the opportunity to grow their business by accessing the UK market. Similarly, UK firms will have easier access to Australia and the unparalleled opportunities that reside a step away in South-East Asia, the fastest-growing internet market in the world.

Thanks to the support of Austrade and the UK’s Department of International Trade, the Bridge will give businesses tailored assistance to navigate the complexities of operating in a foreign market, such as connections for legal, regulatory and practical advice about setting up between the two markets.

These agencies will give FinTechs a networking leg-up, while a collaboration between FinTech industry groups will facilitate stronger business-to-business links in the sector. This is a critical aspect needed to foster development in this fast-paced sector.

Industry bodies will lead business-to-business discussions on the challenges of entering the other market and provide views to governments on other FinTech policy issues such as blockchain, RegTech and data exchange.

In the regulatory area, our securities regulator, ASIC, and the UK’s FCA will also make it easier for FinTech start-ups to test their ideas by facilitating access to each country’s regulatory sandbox and providing assistance through their innovation hubs.

ASIC and the FCA will also explore opportunities for quicker licence processing for FinTech firms that are already licenced or authorised in the other country.

But we cannot discount the great collaboration already underway. In March last year, for example, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s London Innovation Lab and Austrade signed an agreement to support innovation exchange and investment between Australia and the UK.

In February this year, ING and CBA undertook a RegTech pilot in collaboration with FinTech firms and the FCA in London which demonstrated the potential for artificial intelligence and natural language processing in order to simplify the ways businesses meet their regulatory compliance obligations.

FinTech is not an afterthought in Australia. It is front of centre in our national economic plan to boost jobs and growth; giving innovative businesses the encouragement and means to become leaders in a global marketplace where speed, simplicity and scale are non-negotiables.

We recently introduced legislation to enhance our successful regulatory sandbox by broadening the scope of products and services that can be tested. This will put in place the world’s most forward leaning regulatory sandbox.

We have just welcomed a New Payments Platform - making payments faster and simpler for consumers and businesses. Not more waiting over the weekend to have your payments processed.

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We have made it easier for entrepreneurs to raise capital by introducing an equity crowdfunding framework and extending the investment opportunities to proprietary companies.

This development will open up new capital markets for small businesses and start-ups who may face difficulty accessing traditional sources of funding.

And we are implementing Open Banking to give consumers access to their data and throw open the doors to competition within the lending market, a process that is already underway here in the UK.

Armed with their own data, consumers will be able to seek out a better deal on their banking products, through their own volition or through an innovative third party.

This focus on FinTech is already bearing fruit.

Australia was ranked 5th in the 2017 EY FinTech Adoption Index, and we have seen the number of FinTech start-ups increase from less than 100 in 2014 to almost 600 last year.

We have also seen the development of an active network of FinTech hubs, start-up incubators and corporate innovation and accelerator programs.

It is also increasingly diversified - the sector is picking up credit, payments and digital currencies and now extending to include RegTech, data and analytics, and personal finance management.

FinTech investment in Australia has also remained strong, with investment of around US$200 million in 2017.

One example is ZipMoney, an ASX-listed deferred payment provider which has secured partnerships and funding from two of Australia’s largest banks; with a $40 million investment arising from a partnership with Westpac and a further $200 million debt funding deal from NAB.

Importantly, we have a stable and supportive regulatory system, offering an attractive market for the launch and expansion of FinTech products.

So as you can see, the Australian Government continues to respond to the rapid development of FinTech. We’re working constructively with industry leaders and regulators to ensure we provide every opportunity for FinTech firms to succeed.

Our collaboration with the UK through the FinTech Bridge adds another exciting dimension to Australia’s approach to fostering global cooperation on FinTech.

But it doesn’t stop with us - Australian and UK financial regulators are reaching out to regulators all over the world to deepen engagement.

The Chancellor and I have just returned from the G20 summit in Argentina, where discussions recognised the global nature of FinTech.

Collaboration in financial services and financial technology is changing the world.

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I believe the UK - Australia FinTech Bridge will deepen our countries’ positions as world leaders in FinTech.

The FinTech Bridge encourages and facilitates not only new FinTech businesses, but the revolution in consumer experiences that come from financial technology.

I am passionate about FinTech, as is the UK. I look forward to this new and exciting opportunity in our digital future.

Thank you.

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