This week, Peter Fletcher-Dobson, digital advisor for Kiwibank, discusses the first week of the KiwiBank Fintech Accelerator and shares his vision for the future of the NZ Fintech scene.
New Zealand’s first Fintech Accelerator is out of the blocks! The nine outstanding teams selected from an application pool of 70-plus, were warmly welcomed at the start of their three-month journey by a rockstar-list of partners and supporters including Xero founder Rod Drury and Minister of Science and Innovation, Paul Goldsmith.
For me, it’s poignant to reflect how the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator ties directly into Kiwibank’s mission, born 14 years ago, to challenge the status quo in financial services with the single aim of making Kiwis better off.
New Zealand has been punching above our weight in innovation—right from a Nelson boy splitting the atom to our world-leading electronic payments system and game-changing hi-tech companies like Xero taking on the world’s best and winning. But I think we’ve been lacking a sustainable ecosystem to galvanise and unleash the New Zealand $1 trillion global fintech opportunity.
So it’s hugely exciting to be working in Wellington alongside a bunch of great organisations like Callaghan Innovation, Creative HQ, Xero, Microsoft; Mastercard; Simmonds Stewart, EY and Springload who want to take NZ fintech to the world. We’re hopefully standing at the start of a long-lasting partnership between Kiwi businesses to create an ecosystem for fintech to thrive.
We came together to welcome the ventures to the Accelerator at a launch event on Tuesday—the official first day of the Programme. The message from Xero CEO Rod Drury when he addressed the ventures was that Fintech isn’t in competition with banking. Rather there are fantastic partnering opportunities. He sees the opportunity for the accelerator teams to leverage existing channels grow into great New Zealand companies working alongside Xero and others to put NZ FinTech technology on the map.
Despite the luminaries in the room, the spotlight is now well and truly now on the nine fintech businesses at the startpoint of their 14-week journey to pitching for investment on Demo Day on May 11. What’s been clear during the selection process, the pre-launch bootcamp and during week one is that they have the most awesome platform to launch from.
The Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator uses Creative HQ’s Lightning Lab to transform the teams’ concepts and ideas into great, investable businesses in 14 weeks. There’s a hugely experienced and talented programme team headed up by Programme Director Kristen Lunman plus partners with deep financial services expertise and local and global connections.
The message form Kiwibank to the cohort was to expect the unexpected—
“You can’t anticipate where you’ll end up at the end so don’t put unreasonable expectations on yourself. Draw on the expertise and insight around you…make full use of the resources uniquely available to you, including the mentors. We’re hoping you’ll be challenged. We’ll be on a shared learning journey too, so we’re hugely excited for the opportunities ahead.”
The pace is relentless, but the energy is infectious—the teams are entering a whirlwind.
It reminds me of a favourite whakataukī: “Whāia te iti kahurangi; ki te tuoho koe, me maunga teitei” - Pursue that which is precious, and do not be deterred by anything less than a lofty mountain.