Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator 2.0 attracts applicants globally

Peter Fletcher-Dobson noted that many of the applicants are at a more advanced stage than previous applicants.

Applications for the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator 2.0 close at midnight on Dec. 3 and so far there have been more than 50 applicants from New Zealand and abroad.

"The takeup has been great," says Peter Fletcher-Dobson, a digital adviser at Kiwibank, adding that he is expecting a lot of last-minute applications for the accelerator program run in partnership by Kiwibank and Creative HQ.

While the majority are from New Zealand, there are applications from China, South Africa, Canada, Singapore, Germany, Poland, Finland and the US, he said.

"By having overseas ventures involved, we can expose Kiwi start-ups to the thinking and technology being applied internationally. The global networking potential alone will be invaluable," he said.

Fletcher-Dobson noted that many of the applicants are at a more advanced stage than previous applicants, with some looking to enter the New Zealand market and others wanting to launch a new product or idea as part of an existing business. The majority have projects in the payments area with some looking at using blockchain technology for payments and others focusing on what he called "reg-tech", aimed at helping financial institutions with regulatory compliance.

He said there are several looking at personalised automated financial advice or robo-advice, in particular given the Financial Markets Authority announced it will let Kiwis access robo-advice, with an exemption kicking in before a legislative overhaul of the sector.

"We are starting to see the real application of smart technology," he said. "FinTech's a $1 trillion global industry, with investment increasing every year. As a country with talented people and a good regulatory environment, we can be at the heart of development."

A selection panel will meet in Wellington to select the start-ups that will participate in a three-month business growth programme run by Lightning Lab. Last year there were seven participating teams and this year Fletcher-Dobson said they are expecting eight to 10. A demo day will then be held in May.

The inaugural Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator resulted in the successful launch of startups including Sharesies, Accounting Pod and Tapi with support, funding and expertise to build, develop and expand their products in New Zealand and world markets.

(BusinessDesk receives assistance from Callaghan Innovation to cover the commercialisation of innovation)