Stone & Chalk names resident startups
The Google-backed, Silicon Valley-based fintech start-up Ripple Labs, which is developing new payments transfer technology, is among a group of 41 start-ups that have joined Stone & Chalk, the fintech hub in Sydney that was officially opened on Tuesday night.
The Berlin-based online lender to small businesses, Spotcap, is another international start-up to open an office in Australia through Stone & Chalk.
“The decision by overseas start-ups like Ripple Labs and Spotcap to set-up their regional headquarters in Sydney despite all the incentives being thrown at them by other cities in Asia is evidence of the opportunity that exists for us,” said Stone & Chalk chief executive Alex Scandurra.
“We’ve been approached by fintech hubs and governments from around the world wanting to partner and collaborate with us. We have also experienced in quick time how we can help advance the fintech vision in Australia when start-ups, government and industry work together towards that common purpose.”
About 120 entrepreneurs have moved into Stone & Chalk which expects to have 200 people working there by the end of the year. Among the local start-ups that have moved into the hub at 50 Bridge Street are Macrovue, a thematic stock picking start-up in which AMP recently invested; the big data company Zetaris, which counts Westpac’s venture capital fund Reinventure Group as in investor; and high-frequency trading hardware maker Metamako.
Stone & Chalk, which is chaired by Westpac director Craig Dunn, has received more than $2 million in funding from the big end of town. Its foundation partners are: Allens, American Express, AMP, ANZ Banking Group, the ASX, Capital Markets CRC, FINSIA, Finzsoft (NZ), HSBC, IAG, IBM, KPMG, Macquarie Group, Oracle, Suncorp Bank, TAL, Thomson Reuters, Veda, Westpac Banking Corp and Woolworths.
Ian Pollari , the global co-lead of KPMG’s fintech practice – whose report for the Committee of Sydney last year kickstarted the momentum for the creation of Stone & Chalk – said: “it’s amazing to reflect that in just months we’ve progressed from a diverse group of stakeholders with a common vision discussing the possibilities to actually creating a living, breathing hub for our best fintech start-ups.”
For Australian fintech to thrive on an international stage, Mr Pollari said work needed to continue to align the needs of the fintech community with the development of innovation policy. “Stone & Chalk is ideally placed to help facilitate this,” he said. “Given fintech is a global marketplace, as a priority we need to find champions in federal government to be active advocates for Australian fintech.”
Ripple Labs, which was founded in late 2012 and raised $28 million earlier this year, made headlines in Australia in June when Commonwealth Bank of Australia revealed it was testing the company’s technology, a move that could revolutionise how banks transact with each other. Westpac is also trialling the system.
Dilip Rao, Ripple Labs’ managing director for Asia Pacific, said he looked at Singapore, Mumbai and Dubai as potential regional hubs before choosing Sydney, which was attractive because of the size of the big four banks and high level of skills in the financial services workforce. “Sydney is able to provide high quality, high value people that I can use to leverage cheaper resources out of India or Singapore,” he said.
Original Post: Sydney Morning Herald