The Australian fintech sector must hone its focus to developing a specific ecosystem or risk losing out to a highly competitive global marketplace, according to Reinventure Group.
Speaking at the Australia's Asian Future Summit on Friday, Reinventure Group managing director Simon Cant spoke to the need for Australia to find its own fintech niche to attract global customers. He cited the success of Israel's rapidly-expanding and globally dominant cyber security ecosystem, referred to by many as the 'epicentre' for security innovation.
"Israel has developed a very strong reputation globally in relation to cyber security, and now people if they've got cyber security ventures it's all about I need to get to Israel so that people with credibility will back me and then I'll get straight into developing [and opening] doors everywhere in the world," Cant said.
"I think we have to be clear on where are those spaces we need to potentially win at or at least have a winning ecosystem, which will give us a place in this new world landscape."
Drilling down into specifics, Cant hailed what he sees as the endless possibilities offered by blockchain to completely rewrite the financial services industry, and shared his dream to see Australia be a world leader in the space.
"The whole blockchain piece has to potential to actually pull apart some of these massive monopolies that are growing up in the tech space," Cant said.
"It would be great if as a community we could lean in together, and build a strong blockchain ecosystem for Australia."
Cant added that to achieve global dominance, regulators must work with fintechs, not against them, to attract investment, talent, and companies to Australian shores.
"At the moment most blockchain companies are going to Switzerland because you can set up as a non-profit there and do an ICO (initial coin offering), or they're going to Singapore. So I think we still have our work cut out for us to be a leader in this space," Cant said.
A new venture announced today between ATM operator StarGroup and blockchain service provider DigitalX will see almost 3000 existing ATMs across Australia equipped with updates that will allow Bitcoin holders to buy and sell the digital currency.
The machines will be operated as "two-way" ATMs, meaning that holders will be able to both acquire Bitcoin and instantly convert their Bitcoin to Australian cash. For current Bitcoin users looking to "cash out", the process will take days to use existing Australian online digital currency exchanges.
The global Bitcoin market has grown from less than $20 billion at the start of the year to more than $70 billion today. The blockchain sector is forecast by consultants Frost & Sullivan to reach revenues of $843 million by 2010.