By Rick Brown
As 2018’s Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator draws to a close, I want to reflect on my role as a specialist ‘fintech mentor’ over the course of the programme. Like all accelerator cohorts this one is different from all the others and has presented specific challenges to me and the ventures.
Since we completed the inaugural programme in 2017, much has changed in the NZ fintech ecosystem. It could be summed up in a single word: momentum.
Think regulatory reviews, new financial product launches and the continued rise of blockchain and cryptocurrency. This year’s cohort are launching their businesses into a NZ fintech ecosystem where customers are looking for innovation, regulators are listening and evolving, and incumbent players are open to partnering.
So, how was KFA 2018?
Firstly – why mentor in KFA 2018?!
Simple – I love working with fintech entre- , or intra-, preneurs! My mix of knowledge offers the teams a real opportunity to use me as a sounding board on key decisions or provide advice on their venture’s direction, with experience across; financial regulations, product design and technical development, accessing and accelerating in markets, and – most importantly – how to ‘maketh the money’.
Aside from all the normal accelerator excitement – teams getting positive validation of their hypothesis, winning their first customer(s) or deploying their first product version… a big part of my KFA 2018 MX was the range of fintech from the ventures themselves. Teams not only represented a spectrum across financial services (payments, personal finance, wealth and insurance…), but they also had different models within their particular market:
From core fintech enablers working in the identity and data infrastructure space to pure-play fintechs (those storing or moving money and therefore require some sort of licensing), and fintech add-ons (those adding great Customer Experience to licensed providers).
As a result, my fintech mentor sessions with each team have always been different and definitely challenging.
In short, my KFA 2018 MX has been sensational.
Fintech Market Forecast
Here are some suggestions to consider in the short- to medium-term for fintech startups or corporate innovation in New Zealand.
- The Fintech Industry – the NZ way.
Whether startups know it or not, they are each participants shaping the local fintech market. On any measurement – in investment raised, people employed or market share (customers using fintech) – the New Zealand market will continue to gain momentum.
- Partnering is a Theme
Pure-play, stand-alone startups will find it difficult to gain real traction in either the consumer or business markets unless they have a real differentiator – and more than just price. As a result, partnering for success – where the relationship is win:win – will continue to dominate financial services market strategy in NZ.
- Eye on the Real Prize
Yes, the local market will continue to evolve. However, given NZ’s scale, the bigger prize is – and always will be – offshore, irrespective of where ventures play in the value chain. So we can certainly test and learn here however carefully chosen offshore markets are the big prize!
I’d love to see continued success of fintech ventures formed in NZ achieving international success following the likes of Pushpay, FNZ and Fraedom.
So that’s me, signing off on #KFA2018 – Onwards and upwards teams!
The Fintech Mentor in Residence for the inaugural Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator, Rick Brown came back onboard our 2018 programme as a specialist fintech mentor. When not working with fledgling fintech startups, Rick is a prominent figure building the fintech ecosystem here in New Zealand advising startups and established fintechs alike and working with FinTechNZ. Find him on LinkedIn.