The Australian fintech industry is dynamic and ultra-competitive. It’s characterised by a vast geographical region, diverse audiences, rigorous regulatory frameworks, and a media landscape that is somewhat concentrated compared to the size of the fintech industry.
The Cognito Australia team recently attended Fintech Australia's flagship event – Intersekt23, which was the largest to date. Over the course of the week, we chatted with key industry leaders on how Australia’s fintech landscape is developing, and what brands need to do to achieve success in this difficult market.
From our observations, it’s fair to say that some of the spark has returned to the industry.
Enthusiasm in becoming the next Airwallex, Xero, or Afterpay, has in no way been dimmed by VC pullback, retrenchments and a consolidating industry. If anything, these challenges have made participants even more hungry; and for some, they feel like they’re beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, after a difficult two years.
When asked about what he saw at the recent Intersekt event, Shakeel Rashid, Head of Partnerships and Communications, Singapore Fintech Association (SFA), said,
“When looking at the Australian fintech industry, I see many similarities to what we experience in Singapore. Both are lucky to have regulatory environments that promote innovation rather than stifle it, and have a hugely talented cohort of business leaders and industry-contributors. This is why we continue to promote cross-pollination between the two markets and work tirelessly to give the ecosystem the support it needs to thrive.”
According to Rehan D'Almeida, General Manager at FinTech Australia,
“The sector has never really stopped growing or evolving over the past few years. It’s always been here. It has, however, gone quiet. The great thing about Intersekt is that gives companies a platform to talk about their challenges and growth over the past 12 months - something that we haven’t heard a lot about.”
D’Almeida noted that stability in environment and market are key factors for fintechs’ success in Australia,
“Stable market conditions and the right policy settings. Seeing the economy stabilise will help fintechs secure investment, partners and in turn, customers. This is something that will happen in its own time as there are greater factors at play. But most companies are readying themselves for that moment.”
From my own perspective, I believe that those who “make straw hats in wintertime” will ultimately give themselves an advantage when fintech summer comes again.
As businesses ready themselves for a more stable operating environment, it’s important for them to make good on the opportunities that are currently available.
Top of mind should be taking the time to craft, solidify and maintain a powerful brand, instil trust in the product, and improve and maintain an impeccable corporate reputation.
To do so, dive deep into your corporate story to bring out USPs that excite key stakeholders (including the media), and leverage the power of effective communications to bolster your visibility in this crowded space.
Patience, effort, and the ability to craft an interesting narrative are needed. It's not merely about extolling the virtues of your product, but aligning them with the broader Australian narrative – otherwise, one risks getting lost in a sea of sameness.
How does your fintech solution dovetail with Australian challenges and aspirations? Why should people listen to you? Why should they care?
Now is the time to build a memorable, strong and reliable brand presence, or run the risk of being left behind by those who do.
At events like Intersekt, the chance to embed your brand into the Australian fintech fabric is there for the taking. Events like this should be an avenue for genuine stakeholder engagement, of which good communications strategy is a key ingredient.
Ensuring your brand becomes an intrinsic part of the event, rather than just a footnote, requires planning, a discerning approach, and a sort of fintech social currency, which is only achievable by time and effort spent in the market, and the subsequent effective communication of such efforts.
Jono Buxeda is an Associate Director in Cognito's Sydney office