China is the biggest kid on the block when it comes to the emerging alternative finance market in the Asia Pacific region. In fact, China has the largest alternative finance market in the world driven by a fast growing economy, a highly connected population via mobile devices, and a need for access to capital not serviced by traditional state owned banks. But rapid alternative finance growth is not isolated to just China in the Asia Pacific region. Australia experienced growth of 53% from 2015 to 2016, according to the recent research report published by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. And why the numbers are far smaller, as is the Australian economy, down under the Aussies are in second place following China for alternative finance growth. Australia’s alternative finance market has now reached US $609.6 million.
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Beau Bertoli, joint CEO of Prospa – an Australian online lender, says that while the alternative finance market might have initially been slower to take off in Australia than in other regions across Asia Pacific, the numbers and level of investment now can not be ignored.
“With government confidence in Fintech at an all-time high in Australia, we are experiencing a regulatory environment that is more conducive to innovation than ever before,” said Bertoli. “Before founding Prospa five years ago, unsecured business loans simply didn’t exist in Australia, and they certainly weren’t available online. This model of lending has transformed the way small business owners experience finance in Australia and has allowed Prospa to inject over $400 million into the economy.”
Bertoli is incredibly bullish for Aussie Fintech growth.
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MoneyPlace CEO Stuart Stoyan echoes Bertoli’s sentiment regarding online lending;
“We have now moved on from being an ‘early stage’ and ‘cottage’ industry to be a legitimate source of funding for Australian borrowers,” he said.
Moula co-founder Aris Allegos said the CCAF report was a “testament to the contributions of lenders like Moula have been making for SMEs accessing finance.” Allegos said [Australia] “should be proud that we’re changing the lending landscape for small business owners in Australia.”
Daniel Foggo, CEO of RateSetter Australia, explained that while trust and confidence in banks continues to erode, peer-to-peer lenders are building a sustainable, technology-led alternative to the bank model, offering better value to Australian investors and borrowers.
“The report demonstrates excellent progress for FinTech in Australia, but the local industry is still in the early stages of an exciting growth story,” he said. “In the UK and the USA, peer-to-peer lenders and other Fintech companies have achieved such prominence that they are no longer viewed as ‘alternative’ and are increasingly considered to be mainstream.”
Australia benefits by the fact it has a cohesive committed community. Platforms and other Fintech industry participants put their differences aside when it comes to the great good of Aussie Fintech advancement. Add this to the fact that the Australian government has recognized the strategic importance of Fintech innovation and the private-public partnership has some serious momentum.
Danielle Szetho, FinTech Australia CEO, said the CCAF Asia-Pacific findings show that invoice financing, balance sheet lending, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding, are all servicing the nation’s strong economy and the needs of growing small and medium-sized businesses.
“The demand for our products and services is strong and our Fintech lenders are rising to the challenge,” affirmed Szetho. “This broad-based report showcases the cumulative efforts of government and regulatory bodies like the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to support the accelerating momentum behind alternative finance in Australia. The story in Australia has truly been about demand, and the small-to-medium enterprise market has driven a lot of the success in the Fintech lending sector together with the increasing availability of data. In doing this, the fintech industry has helped these businesses prosper.”
Szetho explained that Australia needs to capitalise on this opportunity and momentum with Fintech given that SMEs are driving the Australian economy.
“The continual work of our Fintech alternative finance players will go a long way towards creating new jobs, and helping those small businesses thrive.”
Szetho said Australia is only in the early stages of developing its crowdfunding market. Aussie Fintech is just getting started;
“This means that we can expect further alternative financing growth when this market begins to establish and mature. We hope that this report will mean the Asia-Pacific region and indeed the world will take a closer look at our dynamic and growing fintech industry in this country.”
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