The Northern Daily Leader

Understanding Australia's contributions to the global fintech sector

Understanding Australia's contributions to the global fintech sector
Understanding Australia's contributions to the global fintech sector

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Over the past two years in particular, Australia has demonstrated itself to be the home of one of the world's fastest growing fintech sectors. Homegrown fintech companies like Afterpay and Zip Co gained recognition at a global scale during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the former also being acquired by American fintech giant Block (formerly known as Square).

With Afterpay now being valued at approximately US$31.8 billion and many of the nation's other local fintech companies also growing in value upon entering the global market, many industry analysts have turned their attention towards the untapped potential that lies in the tech innovators, developers, programmers, researchers, and entrepreneurs who drive the fintech sector on Australian soil.

Breaking down the recent and immense achievements experienced by our homegrown fintech companies reveals how Aussie innovators may continue to make great strides in fintech, providing nations across the world with digital financial infrastructures that may very well pave the way for a greener global economy too.

COVID-19 and the growth of Australian fintech

The innovators that have been at the frontlines throughout the pandemic are developers.

Homegrown agencies like DreamWalk App Development based in Melbourne, have expressed that the pandemic brought on a great sense of urgency amongst Australia's community of app developers to deliver on their projects as quickly and effectively as possible.

The primary reason for this was simply because lockdowns forced people from all over the world to rely on digital processes as an alternative to traditional face-to-face interactions.

The shift from viewing digital processes as an eventual goal to a very real necessity was more or less brought about overnight, and the digital transformations that were projected to occur over several years by economic analysts ended up occurring over just a few short months in 2020.

Digital alternatives for financial services were amongst some of the most necessary innovations, as the unprecedented economic atmosphere inspired by COVID-19 lockdowns saw global consumers searching for new and increasingly convenient ways to shop online, and not just for eCommerce goods alone.

Without digital payment methods or platforms where consumers could browse through a retailer's wares at home, they would be less likely to make a purchase, thus exacerbating the financial impact that the pandemic held on that retailer.

As a result, an influx of Australian business owners recognised the value of investing in both web and app development.

Similarly, apps like Afterpay and ZipPay allowed consumers to make purchases online at their own pace, a service which was naturally increasingly valuable in the height of the pandemic, which saw millions of Australians experiencing reduced work hours or even being made redundant.

There was a clear need for flexibility and convenience in personal finance alongside the growth of online shopping.

This in a nutshell, is effectively how COVID-19 triggered the growth of the Australian fintech sector.

Fintech as an emerging field of study in tertiary institutions

As Aussie fintech companies continue to grow in value on the ASX and increase their own revenue post-COVID, more established developers are recognising the employment opportunities that are on offer by engaging further with the fintech industry, whether it be through seeking professional roles at fintech companies, working with governmental agencies and NGOs tasked with regulating the fintech sector, or even through turning to teaching newly developed fintech courses at tertiary institutes.

A growing number of Australian students currently have access to fintech-related subjects and courses, with some universities already offering dedicated masters courses in the industry, or even MBA programmes that allow students to specialise in fintech management.

As the industry continues to develop, it's likely that more specialised disciplines and cross-sections will emerge, with holistic courses tying together all the professional skills that we've observed to be valuable in the fintech sector thus far, these being business management, economics, digital literacy, proficiencies with modern industry technologies, and digital marketing.

As Australian tertiary institutions have been amongst the first in the world to introduce dedicated fintech courses, their teaching materials will develop a template upon which other universities and colleges across the globe can use in the development of their own local courses and programmes.

Established Australian fintech educators have also spoken often of the fact that developing course materials can be just as collaborative an endeavour as the fintech sector is in itself, with course designers often finding themselves developing materials with a variety of professionals operating within other disciplines.

Melbourne: the heart of Australia's fintech industry

Fintech industry analysts have stated that a great majority of Australian fintech companies who have achieved global recognition have their headquarters in the city of Melbourne, including AfterPay.

This finding has led many fintech developers across the globe to consider Melbourne to be the veritable heart of Australia's burgeoning fintech sector.

As a result, Melbourne has been attracting a great variety of development agencies, independent professionals, and students who are eager to forge their own space within the industry.

Investors have also been setting their sights on fintech companies that are headquartered in Melbourne, as developers and market analysts alike have noted that strong industry networks have played an important role in an organisation's success.

Peer-to-peer learning is a staple in all areas of technological development, but as fintech in particular is already named after a merging of two individual industries, there is naturally a firm need for multidisciplinary thinking in order for innovators to carve their own niche.

Resources for future fintech entrepreneurs

It's important to note too, that Aussie fintech isn't the only technological industry that has been experiencing widespread success.

There are app developers and entrepreneurs working collaboratively in a large number of industries, including marketing and brand development, education, as well as in the game development industry.

The meteoric successes of apps like Melanie Perkins' Canva and the Melbourne game development studio House House's Untitled Goose Game, are indicative of the fact that Australian agencies and studios operating in and around the tech sector do have potential to make a global impact.

Aspiring developers, programmers, and generally tech-savvy or multi-disciplinary creative students alike may be able to get in on the ground floor of this booming industry upon completing their tertiary studies.

Whether you opt to enrol in a tertiary fintech course or simply add some fintech subjects to your existing study plan, engaging with fintech at a foundational level can be highly valuable, as the industry is still in a period of development where existing agencies and professionals are still picturing the sector as it takes shape.

There is a fair amount of uncharted territory that still exists within the sector, and whilst Australia has played a monolithic role in mapping out the power of fintech in a digitising world, fintech professionals and students across the globe still have the means to make their own innovations, regardless of where they may find themselves.