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Fintechs welcome to ‘eat our lunch’, says ANZ

The CEO of one of Australia’s major lenders has emphasised that “big banks don’t have to hold on to everything”, and fintechs are welcome to share the market to promote a more competitive industry.

Addressing a crowd of fintech start-ups at the AltFi Australasia Summit in Pyrmont on Monday, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said: “I absolutely have no issue with any of you coming after us, and wanting to eat our lunch and take away business from us, that's fine. A dynamic, innovative, competitive industry is actually in everybody's interest.

“It is in our interest. There are businesses that we're not the best person to provide, it might be in the personal loan space, it might be in leasing, it might be in certain payments. That's the nature of any vibrant industry. And we see that all the time in other industries. Big banks don't have to hold on to everything.”

Delivering a keynote talk on the topic of ‘The future of Australian Fintech and ANZ’s role’, Mr Elliott added that ultimately a future where banks and fintechs work in partnership is “inevitable”.


“We have something that you don't have. We have five million customers in Australia alone, you don't. You want them, I understand that. And you have something that we don't have: you have good ideas, and you have new technology and better ways of doing things, so there is a natural way of trying to figure out how to work together,” he explained.

As one of the early adopters of ApplePay, a technology which has been touted as the “Uber or Amazon of banking”, Mr Elliott said that the financial industry should look to those companies as setting the expectations of consumers.

“Our daily digital life is set by companies like the Amazons and the Ubers of the world or Airbnb, so people then translate, ‘if I can do that about booking a hotel room, why can't I have that same experience with banking?’

“I think for us to describe ourselves as the Uber of banking would be, quite frankly, ridiculous, and it's not something that we aspire to do, but it doesn't mean we can't learn from them.”

P2P lending partnerships ‘not on the top of ANZ’s list’

In terms of fintech partnerships for ANZ, Mr Elliott did not confirm mainstream media reports that the major bank will be looking to partner with SME lender Moula.

He went on to say that P2P lending, in particular, is not something that is “on the top of ANZ’s list”, and rather the bank would be more likely to seek a “digital transformation partnership”.

“I think for us, when you think about digital and the transformation, it's much more likely to be in the area of payments, which is a core function of what we do, helping people move money around, and so any kind of digital transformation partnership is much more likely to be in that sphere for ANZ than it is in P2P lending,” he elaborated.

In saying this, he emphasised that there is “definitely” a market for P2P lending.

“Do I think it's going to overtake banking any time soon? No. But I think they're complementary things. There are a lot of things in the financial sector that we don't do and we live perfectly harmoniously with other parts of this financial sector, and that's how I see P2P,” he concluded.

While Mr Elliott said that fintech is an interesting space, as a bank, ‘regtech’ is potentially more exciting for ANZ.

“Regulation has a big role to play, and there's always a balance... regulators want to encourage competition and make it easier for new people to come up with innovative ideas, but their ultimate responsibility is to protect the consumer in particular.

“I have no issue with people wanting to compete and that's fine, we want those people to do well, we want the economy to do well as a result, but the regtech piece is really exciting for us, because the reality is it only enables us to do things in a more digitally responsive, faster way.”

[Related: 2017 will be ‘watershed’ year for blockchain]

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