Policy, regulation and broader government support are fundamental dimensions in creating a healthy and sustainable fintech ecosystem. There is a need for policy momentum to be maintained and for there to be a proactive fintech agenda at all levels of government. We explored a wide range of potential growth initiatives and those considered most effective in the eyes of Australian fintech start-ups are listed below.

Tax tops the list

Nine in ten (87%) participants agree that the top effective growth initiative is to ‘make the research and development tax incentive more accessible to start-ups’, followed closely by providing ‘Capital gains tax relief for tech start-ups first incorporated in Australia’ (85% effective). Founders interviewed are quite positive about the level of tax incentive support provided in the past 12 months and would like this to increase.

Policy reforms to secure talent

Nearly 8 in 10 fintechs (79%) state that it would be effective to have policy reforms in areas that make it easier to hire employees e.g. payroll tax reform and skilled migration visas, especially as a business grows in size. In particular, the government planned entrepreneur visas, will be a timely response to this need. Given the talent acquisition challenges that fintechs face as they grow, it is not surprising that this factor has emerged as one of the key changes that would be considered effective to help promote the fintech industry.

Access to open bank data

With open banking being under independent review in September 2017, the anticipation of positive recommendations for the setup of an open banking regime in Australia is palpable.

  • Customer acquisition... There is strong recognition that without open bank data, fintech start-ups will continue to face much greater customer acquisition costs. Access to consumer data protected within this system would enable them to more easily identify attractive customer segments and the likely demand for particular products. 85% of fintechs said that ‘Government mandated open data protocols’ would be an ‘effective’ initiative to grow and promote the industry up from 76% last year.
  • New payments platform... Most fintechs (82%) believe that providing more transparent access points for fintechs to connect to the New Payments Platform is one of the top effective industry growth initiatives; this reveals that fintechs are unconvinced about the ease of access to this infrastructure.
Licensing and the regulatory sandbox

As fintech start-ups move forward with their technology solution, ASIC licences are an important part of a go to market strategy.

  • Licence uptake... Six in ten (62%) fintechs surveyed do not currently have one of the three key ASIC licences (financial services licence, credit license or market infrastructure licence).
  • Regulatory sandboxes... Over the last 12 months, ASIC expressed a desire to strike an appropriate balance between encouraging innovation whilst providing an appropriate regulatory framework for the Australian fintech industry. At the end of 2016, ASIC launched the regulatory sandbox framework which provides fintechs with limited freedom to operate within set guidelines while their product solution is in development. The Census data indicates that only 1% of Australian fintechs currently use an ASIC regulatory sandbox, however, a further 9% intend to use this in the next 12 months.

Filters

FinTech Australia membership
Location
Company maturity
Number of employees
Company stage
Company funding

Potential growth initiatives

Q26a. How effective do you believe each of the following initiatives might be for growing and promoting the Australian fintech industry?
Base: All respondents (n=)

Type of license

Q23C. Which of the following does your organisation have?
Q24C. Which of the following licences are you likely to acquire in the next 12 months?
Base: All respondents (n=)

Time taken to get ASIC licence

Q23A. How many months did it take you to get an ASIC licence?
Base: Have licence (n=)
Note: Includes ASIC Credit licence, ASIC Financial services licence and ASIC Market infrastructure licence

Legal fees associated with getting ASIC licence

Q23B. Approximately, how much were the legal fees associated with acquiring an ASIC licence?
Base: Have licence (n=)
Note: Includes ASIC Credit licence, ASIC Financial services licence and ASIC Market infrastructure licence