Technology-focused law-firm Simmonds Stewart is a familiar face within our programme sponsor list and really embrace the startup methodology alongside our teams by ‘innovating when they see benefits for their clients’. Lee Bagshaw, Partner at Simmonds Stewart, took some time out to tell us why they’re involved and what they hope to see for the future of FinTech.
What made Simmonds Stewart want to be involved in the programme?
Simmonds Stewart has partnered with Lightning Lab on previous accelerator programmes and also advised LL alumni companies. We love hanging around the teams, whose passion and drive can be inspiring. We learn a lot from the founders, including about the changing legal and strategic issues they face as they grow their startup. This is particularly relevant for FinTech where new regulation often comes into play.
What is the most exciting technology emerging in the FinTech sector?
The obvious answer is anything to do with cryptocurrency. Leaving that aside, I think there will significant growth in regulatory technology, RegTech. Regulation could hardly be described as exciting but the compliance burden is not going away. For example, identity verification is one area where the blockchain could transform current practices for every financial institution in the world, so I’d expect some big winners in that space.
Why is NZ the ideal place to build the FinTech sector from?
Lots of reasons:
- Kiwis are adaptive, being early adopters of eftpos technology.
- Financial market legislation here is relatively modern as the regulators are responsive to innovation (e.g. crowdfunding regulation).
- Regulators and policymakers are also increasingly engaging with disruptors, for example, in areas such as robo-advisory, cryptocurrency, ICOs and peer-to-peer lending.
Having a bank involved in the programme is a major boost. Collaboration between financial institutions and startups will be key to the success of NZ FinTech. It also puts New Zealand on the map with companies from overseas joining the programme to accelerate their growth. For Simmonds Stewart, it gives us an opportunity to work with startups leading the charge in FinTech. We hope to learn as much as the teams do and, with that knowhow, improve our online content for the broader ecosystem.
What do you think consumers are looking for in new FinTech offerings?
Simplicity and confidence above all.
Simplicity because we’re all “time poor” and there will be a limited number of applications that people can be bothered to use. Startups therefore need to be solving a real pain point – just having clever tech will not be enough. And confidence because that’s what consumers demand when people are handling their financial assets and affairs.
From a personal point of view, anything that takes us towards being cashless. From a NZ perspective, with SMEs being the engine room of the economy, FinTech applications that create a more frictionless business environment through automating and simplifying processes would be welcome. Finally, any innovation which helps teach financial literacy to kids at school.
Read more about the support the programme has garnered in our last Sponsor Spotlight when we spoke with John Lyon, CEO of Ando. Keep up-to-date with the programme and get the updates straight to your inbox by signing up here.