Sydney the focus of world attention with fintech pitch day

11 November 2015

Nick Van Den Berg, COO and Co-Founder of  Simply Wall St, presenting at the Sydney Demo Day

Some of the most world's most innovative financial technology (fintech) companies fought for international glory as part of the Citi Mobile Challenge Asia Pacific 2015 held at the Australian Technology Park, Sydney on 10 November.

The pitch fest – known as the competition's Demo Day - illustrated Sydney's importance and status as a global fintech hub.

In an adrenaline-filled battle between presenters, each start-up was given 10 minutes to convince industry experts that their start-up can provide a major improvement for Citibank and its global customers.

About the Citi Mobile Challenge

Citibank, one of the largest banks in the world, received more than 3,000 submissions from across the world for the competition.

Sydney was one of just four major cities to host a Demo Day for finalists in the Asia Pacific challenge, the others being Bengaluru in India, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The finalists were competing for the chance to take their technologies into production with Citibank's support, plus a share of $100,000 in cash awards along with other benefits. The winners will be announced on 15 December 2015.

One of the attendees at the Sydney event, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Advisory Director, Musarrat Qureshi, said Sydney held an excellent Demo Day and told the event "the Australian fintech environment has a lot going for it".

"There is very good interaction between government, venture capitalists, accelerators, and start-ups," Ms Qureshi said.

How the Citi Mobile Challenge Demo Day came to Sydney

The Financial Services Knowledge Hub, an industry-led collaborative partnership initiated by the NSW Government that seeks to grow our State's financial services industry, was instrumental in the planning, co-ordination and judging of the Sydney Demo Day.

The University of Wollongong's incubator program, iAccelerate, was also a strategic partner for the Citi Mobile Challenge.

Of the 17 fintech companies which pitched at the Demo Day, six were Sydney-based fintech startups. 

Sydney is Australia's start-up capital

Sydney is home to 64% of Australia's tech start-ups and the State's $60 billion financial services industry is the biggest in Australia – making up 45% of the nation's total output in this sector.

Nick Van Den Berg, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Simply Wall St was one of the Sydney start-ups to pitch at the event. Simply Wall St turns financial data into easy-to-understand computer visuals for investors.

Speaking after his presentation, Mr Van Den Berg said the start-up environment in Sydney was more collaborative than in the US or UK.

"People are keen on helping each other, which can speed up solutions and help find investors, partners and employees," he said.

Macrovue, another Sydney-based start-up who pitched during the Demo Day, analyses stocks and groups them in its online platform according to themes and trends, helping small to medium sized superannuation funds invest in global stocks.

Sid Sahgal, managing director of Macrovue, said Australia's rebate available for Research and Development costs makes Sydney a good home for a fintech start-up.

"There's also a huge basket of investable assets here, with $2 trillion in retirement assets under management," he said.

NSW Government support for start-ups

The NSW Government has provided in-kind support to help establish Stone & Chalk, an independent hub for 200 fintech entrepreneurs, and announced Jobs for NSW, a new initiative with $190 million to invest over four years to ensure NSW is capturing the jobs of the future.

NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, John Sidoti, delivered a keynote speech to the Citi Mobile Challenge.

He said 13 industries, comprising more than 65% of the Australian economy, face significant digital disruption by 2017.

"This represents a challenge, but also a golden opportunity," Mr Sidoti said.

"The state that can help position its industry sectors in front of the wave of digital revolution will have a huge competitive advantage in the global marketplace."