Australian incubator opens its doors as battle for fintech talent heats up
Stone & Chalk was originally meant to begin business in March this year but the launch was postponed in order to find new premises to cater for the overwhelming demand. More than 40 businesses and 120 employees will be housed in the new not-for-profit centre, which has been funded by the New South Wales government as well as several of Australia's banks including Westpac, ANZ, Macquarie and HSBC.
"From the outset our aim has been to attract the highest quality fintech startups in Australia, co-locate them under one roof, and support fast tracking their growth to ultimately help them go global," said Alex Scandurra, co-founder of Barclay's Bank's accelerator programme and one of the project's heads.
It is only the second fintech incubator to open in Australia, after EFTPOS provider Tyro Payments opened a hub in Sydney to cater for fintech entrepreneurs. It also comes at a time when concern has been raised that the country could be losing its fintech startups to other countries with more attractive offers of support and lower corproation tax rates.
For example, the UK government recently held a competition to take 10 fintech startups from Australia to take part in Fintech Week in London in September. The UK s' Trade & Investment department also employs four staff in Australia to monitor fintech startups whereas there is no dedicated government post for fintech within the Australian government as yet.
Meanwhile several Asian countries - South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia included - are spending heavily to develop fintech sectors of their own. Most notably, the Singapore government started a fintech investment fund of $225 million and the Monetary Authority of Singapore has formed a fintech and innovation group to be headed by an ex-Citi consumer innovation head .