UK and Australia create 'fintech bridge' to enhance bilateral investment and engagement

27 Apr 2018

Investment in fintech startups – as well as trends, policies and regulatory issues – were the focus of a bilateral fintech agreement signed in London on 22 March.

Treasurer Scott Morrison MP announced the UK-Australia FinTech Bridge alongside the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond, at the International FinTech Conference in London.

‘The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge will deepen ties between the Australian and UK governments and regulatory agencies,’ says Treasurer Morrison. ‘It presents fintech firms on both sides of the bridge with a fast track to pursue international expansion and hit the ground running.’

The agreement was also described by Chancellor Hammond as being the UK Government’s most ambitious to date, and the most advanced regulatory partnership the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has signed.

Fintech investment in Australia has also remained strong, with investment of around US$200 million in 2017. Examples of UK fintech companies recently established in Australia include:

  • TransferWise: a peer-to-peer money transfer service provider
  • Webexpenses: a global provider of expense management software
  • RateSetter: one of the world’s leading peer-to-peer lending services
  • WorldRemit: an online money transfer service provider.

TransferWise has been in Australia since 2015. In 2017, the company processed roughly A$3 billion in international transfers to and from Australia. ‘This year we’re on-track to process A$6 billion,’ says Anhar Khanbhai, TransferWise’s PR Manager for Australia and New Zealand. ‘Each day we’re saving three million customers all over the world approximately £2 million in bank fees.’

The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge will complement other bilateral programs already underway. For example, in March 2017, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Austrade signed an agreement to support innovation exchange and investment between Australia and the UK.

In February this year, ING and CBA undertook a regulatory technology (regtech) pilot in collaboration with fintech firms and the Financial Conduct Authority in London. The pilot demonstrated the potential for artificial intelligence and natural language processing to simplify the ways businesses meet their regulatory compliance obligations.