Global fintechs set sights on Australia as Open Banking nears

14 Oct 2019

A new cohort of global fintech players are eyeing the Australian market, with UK Open Banking software player TrueLayer planning to launch there in 2020, opening the door for its European clients to access to Australian consumers.

TrueLayer is a software developer that sells tools for companies to securely access bank data so they can build fintech products, acting as part of the architecture that enables digital banking products.

Local startups are already working with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to test digital systems ahead of next February when Open Banking will be launched. This means data from consenting consumers on mortgage accounts, credit and debit cards and transaction accounts will be free to be shared between banks and fintech providers.

Since its launch in 2016 TrueLayer has expanded into European countries such as Germany and Italy and partnered with digital banking brands such as Monzo. At the start of the year, it was selected by the UK’s department of International Trade for a pilot program in Australia.

The company’s Australian launch comes just months after it raised $35 million in funding from Chinese technology giant Tencent and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings.

The Asia-Pacific hub will be headed by Marie Steinthaler, who oversaw the rollout of open banking in the UK when she was working for peer-to-peer lender Zopa.

Ms Steinthaler said having watched Open Banking being implemented in the UK it was clear consumers were becoming increasingly comfortable with sharing their financial information to get a better deal.

“Everyone will say, ‘consumers won’t share their data’. But if you provide enough convenience and you make it very, very concrete what they’re sharing and who with, people will give it a go.”

TrueLayer has been working with banking stakeholders, fintechs and the ACCC to prepare its systems for open banking in Australia. Its pitch to companies is to offer data application program interfaces (APIs) to let startups securely connect and access bank data.

TrueLayer’s launch could spur more European-based businesses into the market, with many of the software firm’s existing clients not yet having a base in Australia.

“The best example on that would be CreditLadder. We’ve been working with them for a while now to make credit scoring fairer to tenants,” Ms Steinthaler said.

CreditLadder uses a client’s payments such as rent to contribute to their credit history, putting them in a better position for home and other loan applications.

TrueLayer was launched in 2016 by UK entrepreneurs Francesco Simoneschi and Luca
Martinetti. The company already has some Australian roots – its chief operating officer Shefali Roy is Australian and studied at Melbourne’s RMIT.

Mr Simoneschi, who is the company’s global chief executive, signalled TrueLayer intended to play a significant role in Australia’s Open Banking regime.

“Not only will we be able to provide our European clients with support in Australia, we will be able
to play a major role in helping to grow the region’s open banking economy,” he said.

Other global fintech companies who have set up in Australia include  UK neobank Revolut and money transfer company Transferwise.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald