The NSW Minister for Innovation, Victor Dominello, is keen to make Sydney the fintech hub of the region.
He’s also all about ensuring government is more agile and easier for fintechs to work with. He explains how.
How would you describe the fintech scene in Sydney?
It’s definitely the most mature fintech scene in the country. We’re fortunate because we’re the financial hub of Australia, if not South East Asia, which is where we’re positioning ourselves to be. So as a fintech hub, we’re going really well in Sydney and will continue to grow and go from strength to strength.
We’ve got a natural advantage here in Sydney because we are the financial hub of Australia
What are the most pressing issues for fintechs in Sydney?
What I hear more generally about the various industries, including fintech, is interfacing with government. That’s the hardest thing they deal with. Whether it’s getting procurement contracts, trying to get space to grow, regulation tying them up in knots or the educational issues – these businesses are trying to get the next crop [of talent] who are being poached by businesses in Asia or Silicon Valley. They’re probably the four key areas [where fintech firms have issues with government].
But we’ve got a natural advantage here in Sydney because we are the financial hub of Australia and people gravitate towards us. That said, we can’t rest on our laurels.
Why would Sydney make a world-leading fintech hub?
At this point in the Asian century, we’ve got China and India to our north, representing close to 2.5 billion out of 7 billion people on the planet, a growing middle class and a strong demand for finance. Sydney is in between these regional powers and strategically positioned to engage with the host of opportunities on offer.
Diversity is an unbelievable asset that Sydney has. I used to be the Minister for Multiculturalism and I’d say it all the time: our greatest asset isn’t the coal beneath our feet, it’s the diamonds walking on the surface, it’s our people. They are our human bridges to India, to China and to every other part of the world. We need to leverage that.
How and why are you involved with fintech as part of your portfolio as Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation?
My intersection with fintech relates to the innovation part of the portfolio. I’m inward facing so my role is about data analytics and digitisation of government so there are many synergies with my work and its interplay with the fintech industry.
My major focus is reworking the inner machinery of government to make it more efficient
Fintech appeared very early on for me in the portfolio. As the Minister for Innovation people come to me as a one-stop-shop and they want to show me everything, which is great.
But my major focus is reworking the inner machinery of government to make it more efficient so that when fintech or any other industry wants to work with government, we’re far more agile, digitised, data aware and data intelligent than we used to be.
The NSW Minister for Trade and Tourism, Stuart Ayres, recently welcomed a delegation of fintech leaders from Silicon Valley and Asia. Can you explain the roles within government in relation to local fintech opportunities?
Stuart Ayres is responsible for trade and promoting NSW overseas. In London terms, he’s all about the “buzz”. [Minister for Industry] Anthony Roberts is responsible for dealing with external stakeholders, and I am responsible for dealing with the machinery of government.
And that’s why I’ve been pushing the data innovations and the digitisation of government – it’s one thing for the government to promote itself internationally, but it’s also imperative that we promote a culture of innovation throughout government and NSW.
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