The second edition of New Zealand’s only dedicated FinTech Accelerator programme, the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator programme run by Lightning Lab, recently culminated in a demo day attended by the who’s who of the nation’s start-up and innovation scene. Rick Brown* of the FinTechNZ Working Group attended:
KFA Mark 2
The second running of the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator (KFA) was a significant milestone in the development of the NZ FinTech start-up community. While start-up accelerators are not new in New Zealand, a dedicated FinTech Accelerator is certainly different. FinTech start-ups are in a way no different from any other start-up except for the complicating factor that you are normally storing, moving, or protecting money and therefore subject to complex regulation. What better place for a New Zealand Fintech Accelerator than where the regulator is based!
The second round of the Accelerator (KFA Mark 2) is a step-up from KFA Mark 1, purely on the breadth of financial services industries being covered by the teams. Almost every major FinTech sector was represented with the teams covering everything from payments, to crypto-investing to micro-insurance and new cloud accounting platform for freelancers.
Demo day 2018 dawned bright and breezy with the teams having prepared well for their big show. As with all accelerators, some of the teams chose to use the culmination of the programme to pitch for their initial, or next round, of funding. An invite-only closed-door investor event was held for some of the teams before the main event. All teams pitched well for investment, and at the time of going to print, most are in the latter stages of completing their funding rounds. All of which augurs well for interest in the NZ FinTech start-up sector from the investor community.
Without doubt the main event was the early evening ‘demo-day presentation’ where 500+ attendees from around the country, and Australia, filled the Wellington waterfront theatre location to capacity.
NZ’s Newest FinTechs
Teams from KFA who pitched at demo day represented the full breadth of the financial services and technology spectrum:
Jrny.ai – www.jrny.ai – conversational financial services interaction
Jrny is representative of the ongoing trend to conversational self-serve experiences for existing and new financial services companies. They have significant recurring revenue and are poised to raise funds to further invest in their AI platform and enter new markets outside of NZ.
ego-ID – Digital identity is a key use case being targeted by Blockchain companies, and financial services companies are one of the biggest users of identity solutions. Ego ID are a Centrality backed venture who are attempting to solve the digital identity verification problem through a Blockchain-developed self-sovereign identity solution.
hnry – hnry is an online service that automates all tax and compliance activities for freelancers, contractors, and the self-employed. They are a FinTech in that they are the true intermediary between freelancers and employers. Customer growth rates are increasing month on month. Keep an eye out for hnry!
Invsta – https://www.invsta.com/– attempting to take the puzzle out of crypto-investing and make it available to everyone. A tough challenge in an emerging asset class. Currently in beta, with an active funding round, these guys look to be the real deal.
Stash – Stash is a simple visual management platform for valuable items that offers millennials a customised, fuss-free insurance solution. Whilst not yet live and in-market other markets (such as the UK) have similar providers, and NZ needs a Stash!
Ta Koha – T? Koha is a crowdlending platform for M?ori entrepreneurs to raise capital by involving their wh?nau, their communities, and those who want to see an equitable and inclusive funding landscape in Aotearoa.
Choice – Choice is a new way to pay in New Zealand that reduces and redistributes transaction fees for businesses, giving those savings to Kiwi charities of your choice. These guys have built a great product, are in beta, and have funding from the NEM Foundation.
Greenbase – Greenbase is a Kiwibank-backed venture that seeks to lead the way in the NZ open banking platform space. The company Solves platform issues for the regulator, banks, FinTechs, and ultimately improves the lives of NZ consumers and businesses by enabling better and faster financial services.
It was a pleasure to be present at the birth of New Zealand’s nine newest FinTech start-ups. Most of them are live in the NZ market today, with plans in late 2018 or early 2019 to expand into international markets. FinTechNZ salutes these entrepreneurs and looks forward to supporting them as they continue to evolve. Keep an eye out for them!
*Rick was lead fintech mentor to the teams in the 2018 Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator programmes