The fintech sector has seen a rapid rise in the last few years, underlined by advancing technological capabilities which finally give it the ability to reach its potential. According to the new general manager of Fintech Australia, Rebecca Schot-Guppy, the industry is ready to take another leap towards the mainstream.

As the fallout from the Royal Commission’s final report continues to spill out into the news, coupled with more executives leaving their posts, faith in the major banks is at its lowest level for quite a while. This allows challengers to the bigger players to make a name for themselves, and Schot-Guppy believes the fintech sector is ready to move away from purely being disruptive.

There is a clear gap opening for banking companies to win over the trust of the public, and with several new enterprises now on the block, there are growing calls for them to be given sufficient support to play a key part in developing the Australian economy.

Speaking in her first major interview since she was given the post in the last week, she spoke of how “fintech in Australia has moved beyond pure disruption of the major banks”, and that it was no longer simply the situation of “fintech versus the big four.”

Schot-Guppy has already moved to take Fintech Australia and its members to a more mainstream place, after agreeing to a partnership for them to work with BDO, the financial services firm. This is expected to give them greater credence in market operations and allow them to widen the scope of who they work with, as bigger clients believe in their capacity to deliver.

Describing the Hayne report as “unprecedented in the financial services sector” in terms of the sheer size and scale of the investigation and subsequent report, Schot-Guppy said: “trust in the financial services as a whole has been shattered.”

The general manager has long been said to be a supporter of open banking initiatives, believing the insight available from new streams of data can help to develop better financial products. However, she was quick to point out that any threshold for how big a bank or startup has to be before getting access to open banking data should be consumer-led, and that an opt-in must be the norm.

Calling for a balance between introducing enough regulation to keep a sector in check and rigid frameworks that can stifle development, Schot-Guppy said there was a need to “ensure the accreditation process for fintechs is streamlined and the laws that govern how fintechs have to store the data are reasonable.”

There is a continuing worry that allowing startups without a mature operations system to have hold of consumer data could lead to many problems down the line, including breaches and misuse. Any such instances would dampen any portrayal of reliability the sector may have engendered. 

Such strong talk about correct regulation indicates just how seriously Fintech Australia are taking the challenge of moving away from traditional startup culture where things tend to be more flexible and encouraging them to adopt policies that are expected by mainstream banking corporations.

The hiring of Schot-Guppy follows the exit of her predecessor, Brad Kitsche, who previously directed Uber’s public policy in Australia. He was said to have left after becoming too critical of governing bodies, and not focusing enough on consumer needs.