Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator to scale up Kiwi startups

New Zealand’s first FinTech Accelerator has been set up to turn great ideas into fledgling businesses, and could help New Zealand grow its share of a burgeoning global $1 trillion (NZD) industry.

Kiwibank, Xero, Callaghan Innovation and Creative HQ have today unveiled plans to launch the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator. Based in Wellington, it will initially fund and support eight Kiwi FinTech startups to build, launch and expand products in global markets.

Kiwibank chief executive Paul Brock said the effective combination of financial services and technology could be a boon for the New Zealand economy.

“The global FinTech industry is taking off and New Zealand is ideally placed to take a leading role in the FinTech revolution. New Zealand has shown its ability to grow true digital-era disruptors that can foot it with the world’s best so the challenge is to build on that success so others can break into global markets.

The key is to give innovative Kiwi startups the support they need to take new financial products and services to the global stage and grow the New Zealand economy. The Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator will stimulate FinTech innovation in New Zealand by helping new ventures prove, build and launch their ideas. It will do this through providing funding, expert mentoring and connecting them with investors.”

A March 2016 PWC report into global FinTech found that the landscape for financial services was being redrawn as FinTech altered how, when and where financial services and products were provided. 83% of financial services companies surveyed believed their business was at risk of disruption from FinTech companies.

Global investment in FinTech ventures reached $5.3 billion in the first quarter of 2016, an increase of 67% over the same period last year. In Australia, the FinTech sector is forecast to grow to more than $4 billion by 2020, of which $1 billion will be new added value to the Australian economy.

“Because we’re a major bank uniquely focused on the New Zealand market, it’s important to us that New Zealand has a strong, local FinTech community, ensuring our financial services sector continues to evolve and grow,” Mr Brock said.

“For Kiwibank, supporting a FinTech accelerator will help drive our own internal innovation agenda, both with Kiwibank teams taking part, and also the chance for our culture to be influenced by what our people see in the accelerator programme.

“We’re very ambitious for Kiwi FinTech. With enough guidance and perseverance, Wellington could establish itself globally as a place where great FinTech ventures are born, joining other cities such as Singapore, San Francisco and London. This will attract the best and brightest talent to New Zealand, along with new investment,” he said.

Co-funded by Callaghan Innovation and Xero, the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator will support startups using Creative HQ’s Lightning Lab acceleration programme.

Lightning Lab will take in eight digital startups and provide them with structure, startup methodologies, business skills and focused support to help them successfully prove, build and launch ideas to market. The 14-week mentor-intensive programme is based on the best of breed accelerator model developed by TechStars in the United States.

Xero CEO Rod Drury said New Zealand was ideally placed to capitalise on FinTech’s growth internationally and domestically.

“The growth of the financial technology sector is a boon for the local economy. We see this as a great opportunity to develop our local small businesses, technology leaders and professional workforce by helping to propel the country’s pace of innovation.

“Financial technology is reshaping the way small businesses around the world run their operations – giving them a deeper insight into their true financial position and enabling them to make better-informed business decisions.

“Together with Kiwibank, Xero is keen to leverage our global relationships with businesses, accounting professionals and financial providers to foster New Zealand’s next high-growth companies,” he said.

The accelerator programme commences in February next year 2017. Applications are now open to interested entrepreneurs throughout New Zealand. To view the criteria and apply, visit: https://creativehqnz.leadpages.co/kiwibank-fintech-accelerator/

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