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Four ways government should double down on fintech rather than ‘Facebook for cats’

Tuesday, 8 December 2015 | By Andrew Lai

The financial services sector is the largest contributor to economic growth in Victoria and fintech has become widely recognised within the industry as the key to future growth.


Having been convinced on fintech for a long time now, it’s fantastic to see the message being heard by mainstream society.


So it was with great excitement when the Victorian minister for small business Philip Dalidakis met with the Fintech Melbourne community to discuss the newly created LaunchVIC organisation - it was certainly inspiring to hear about the minister’s passion for both startups and fintech.


But fintech specific programs are yet to be announced - so here’s what I want to see:


1. Co-working spaces & accelerators

It’s with great envy when I visit fintech-specific co-working spaces like Tyro and Stone & Chalk where many fintech founders gather and the fintech accelerators and VCs there such as H2 and Reinventure help to build on that.


Without a doubt any fintech funding should look to attract more big name co-working spaces and accelerators - the more the better.


2. Fintech events

Though I’ve run many fintech events myself, I’m always surprised by the amount of publicity and buzz that a single pitch night or Q&A event can generate.  But it’s necessary that we attract and support quality events which generate authentic value to the fintech community.


3. School and university programs

Similar to initiatives in Queensland to teach coding and robotics in schools, there’s no reason why fintech education can’t form part of a curriculum.  Creating a wave of future fintech entrepreneurs and employees requires the education process to start early.


4. Attracting fintech headliners

While it might seem counter-intuitive that attracting international fintech companies will help build local fintechs, the reality is that the talent, capital and branding, in fact, grows the local ecosystem. So, having companies like Stripe and Square based in Melbourne has already helped to build the city’s fintech credentials.


So, while I love hearing about generalist startups like ‘Facebook for cats’, Australia and Victoria in particular has a real advantage in the financial services sector.  We’re well known internationally for having a robust financial services sector with a disproportionate financial footprint for our population size.


The rise of fintech has become a once in generation event, similar to the rise of the personal computer or e-commerce.  Let’s double down and gain aggressively on the momentum while it’s still an infant industry so we can establish Australia as the centre of fintech in Asia.


Andrew Lai is the founder of FinancialAsk and the co-founder of Fintech Melbourne.