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Collaboration trumps disruption at FinTech reverse pitch

09:00am February 21 2024

Greater use of biometrics has potential to transform how big businesses protect themselves and their customers from frauds and scams. (Getty)

The fintech community is coming together with Westpac and ANZ in a reverse pitch event to help tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the financial services industry.

The event, hosted by Fintech Australia with the support of the New South Wales government through Investment NSW, is focused on three problem statements put forward by each of the banks in areas of sustainability, payments, and frauds and scams.

FinTech Australia general manager, Rehan D’Almeida, said reverse pitch events were effective at building real outcomes to specific problems and challenges rather than other approaches which can be too aspirational.

“It's about ensuring that it can be done. These early-stage companies don’t necessarily understand the challenges banks face around compliance and other issues, so it gives them an opportunity to learn about these problems and build solutions.

“On the other side, it’s about giving financial institutions an opportunity to be more efficient with their investment by integrating some of the services from these emerging and established tech companies.”

FinTech Australia is a not-for-profit industry body, representing over 420 fintech companies and startups across the nation and connecting them with large organisations like Westpac.

“We’ve worked with Westpac in the past and supported each other’s work so there has been an ongoing relationship. That helped when we pitched this idea to them, and they’ve been really supportive.”

Westpac chief technology officer, David Walker, said working with FinTech Australia is always a mutual learning experience.

“This event will provide us with an opportunity to explore new perspectives on how we can tackle critically important challenges including how best we can reduce fraud and scams, support businesses and improve the sustainability of homes in Australia,” he said.

“We look forward to seeing the fresh thinking from this dynamic sector.”

IDverse (also known as OCR Labs), is one fintech considering pitching at the event.

The company uses generative AI to deliver software solutions to global businesses, including banks, for customer identity verification and fraud protection.

“We help make sure you can prove who you are in a remote way,” IDverse general manager of Asia-Pacific, Paul Warren-Tape, said.

“In any business relationship where there is trust, you look someone in the eye and you know who you’re dealing with. In a digital world we still need to know who we are dealing with on the other end of that transaction.”

Launched in 2018 by two Australians frustrated with foreign companies retrofitting identity authentication software into local businesses, IDverse powers Westpac’s smart verify customer onboarding.

“Customers using this technology get a link sent to their phone, it will ask them to take a photo of their license, take a short video of who they are and then we can prove who they are for the banking requirements.”

Warren-Tape said collaborating on problem statements helps larger companies become more aware about nuanced software solutions, including in an emerging area of technology: biometrics.

Warren-Tape said proper implementation of biometrics, a type of digital security making use of individual characteristics such as fingerprints or facial recognition, will revolutionise how big businesses stop fraud and scams, preventing financial loss for customers.

It’s this kind of collaboration that shows the industry is moving away from the word ‘disruption’, as D’Almeida explains:

“Through these collaborative opportunities you can take advantage of the strengths of a nimble startup along with the strengths of a financial institution – an incumbent that understands the industry and has that customer base, has that trust within the industry.”

Interest in the event has been considerable, with more than 100 fintechs and emerging tech companies registered to attend the event at the Sydney Startup Hub. Startups and scaleups have the opportunity to present their solutions to the banks by March 20, 2024. The in-person event has reached capacity but fintechs can still tune in online.

Liam is a reporter for Westpac Wire. He previously served as a financial journalist for Money Management and as a regional journalist in Nowra for Australian Community Media.

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