Australian fintech starts exporting to the world

When Australia starts exporting more than just iron ore and coal to the world, it’s hard not to get excited. While these two exports alone carry the Aussie economy a long way – in 2015/2016 they made up 26.4 per cent of all exports at $82.3B – they certainly have a finite life. Once it’s all dug up, the party’s over.

With this inevitability looming on the horizon, it’s evident Australia needs to start harnessing its brains a little more, instead exporting its ideas to the world, rather than just its dirt.

So imagine how exciting it was to hear that two Australian fintech companies in the lending space are now planning their global expansion. Maybe the long awaited transition to the knowledge economy, the politician’s favourite buzzword, is on the horizon?

B2B invoice lending platform Waddle recently announced it will head over the ditch to New Zealand, after fielding demand for its services, and innovative family and friends lending platform Credi will also look to establish a presence in New Zealand, followed by the UK and the US.

Credi doesn’t lend directly, rather the platform helps power the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’, by formalizing loan terms between friends and family, then managing the documentation around the facility until it’s repaid. Since its launch in April of this year it has helped manage $35M worth of informal loans.

To help understand the market dynamics better, Credi worked with RMIT University to prepare a research report into the sector. The result – Lending to family and friends – an invisible phenomena, uncovered some interesting findings.

The first, and most obvious, is that while we most often associate this type of credit as being preferable in markets where there is a high proportion of non-banked individuals i.e. the developing world, there is a growing trend towards more informal forms of inter-generational wealth transfer in developed countries.

In the US for example, loans from family and friends now compose the second most common form of credit used by households with low to moderate incomes.

And here in Australia, the number of banks advertising products that help parents get their children on the property ladder is on the increase. While the report notes the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not collect data on family assisted first-home purchases, this is now widely recognized as a form of financing for the children of the middle class, with banks running nationwide marketing campaigns targeting this market. In fact, it is estimated the actual bank of mum and dad is now Australia’s fifth largest mortgage lender. That means at AU$65.3B, parents have collectively lent more to their children than banks like ING in Australia and Suncorp.

In many ways Credi represents the next phase of peer-to-peer lending, tapping into a deeper niche in a way only a fintech can. And who can say they haven’t lent money to a sibling, parent or friend, or been on the receiving end at some point in their lives? And with all the emotional hang-ups that come with family in general, making getting your money back less problematic certainly has an appeal to it.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business.

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