Thursday’s NZ FinTech Summit 2018 will showcase the latest financial technology thought leadership from NZ as well as globally. We talk to FINNOTEC founder, Binu Paul, about the event.
What is the FinTech Summit?
The history of this event goes back to 2015 when I was going through my own startup journey. I wanted to know who else was doing the same things I was doing in fintech. So I put together a conference, called FINNOTEC. The idea behind the event (which I kept running annually) was to rally the community, and develop the local ecosystem. The event has been very popular, and one thing that came out of the first event was the sense that there was a large enough group of fintech enthusiasts in NZ. In early 2017, the FinTech NZ association was formed with a small group of us. As an association it has grown rapidly in these two years.
For the first time this year, FINNOTEC and FinTech NZ are joining forces to put on the NZ FinTech Summit 2018.
The ethos of the summit carries over from past Finnotec events – bringing together fintech enthusiasts from around New Zealand and overseas to ideate, collaborate and execute. It’s not exclusive to startups or incumbents, we’re pulling in the entire ecosystem to work together.
What are the highlights of the Summit?
FinTech is so fast-moving that each year, along with a standard suite of topics, there is also a focus on contemporary topics. On that front, this year, open banking and artificial intelligence fall into that category, largely because we’re on the cusp of big changes in both sectors.
Another highlight will be the segment which showcases NZ talent. We invite new startups which either have an idea or a working product, and give them three to five minutes to go up on stage and talk about their journey.
When I was building up my first fintech startup, it was incredibly hard to get any exposure without paying a right arm for it. Creating the Finnotec platform was a solution for that problem, and it means that a number of startups now get immediate exposure within the fintech community. In fact, at the first conference, attendees who met on the day got together to work on a new idea which they then showcased the following year. It just proves how important it is to get the right people together in the room.
I also find that the networking opportunity at the event is incredible given the make up of attendees and speakers.
What potential do you see within the fintech industry in NZ?
My view is that the best chance of success in fintech remains with incumbents who have the resources and an existing client base. Start-up fintechs on the other hand will find it challenging if their product or service is only NZ-focused. Survival for most will depend on how scalable the model is globally.
On the other hand, NZ could be a fantastic innovation hub or test market for overseas fintechs to base themselves here and grow from NZ. There are a number of reasons why I believe that: we’re a nation of early adopters (people are happy to go out and try new things). As a nation we are resourceful and innovative, meaning access to great talent. We have adequate pools of funding available. We also have a regulator that is very accessible, at least relative to other countries. For a startup based outside of NZ, these all together create a very attractive opportunity, and potentially that’s where the growth lies for the fintech community here in NZ.
Where do you think the NZ fintech industry will be in five years?
We could be the innovation hub in the Pacific when it comes to all things fintech. That would be an exciting proposition. Arguably, we do need to get a number of things to fall into place in order for us to get there – including having efficient technology and communication infrastructure, agile and visionary policy making and a focus on retaining local talent.
Much of the future will also depend on integrating NZ into the global fintech sector. Key to that is making new alliances and collaborating with overseas fintech ecosystems, which will be a focus in 2019.