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Second time's the charm: Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator returns to Wellington

The second edition of the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator is kicking off on Monday, February 12. Let’s meet the teams who may change the way Aotearoa thinks about money.

The programme follows on from the inaugural 2017 Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator. That firs edition had eight teams, including the investment platform Sharesies. “Being part of the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator helped us turn our idea into a business and provided us with the momentum, tools, and support we needed along the way,” Sharesies co-founder Sonya Williams says.

Beginning on Monday in Wellington, this year’s cohort promises to be just as disruptive as the first. The 10 teams were selected through a competitive application process that saw 66 teams apply.

“We’re thrilled with the high quality of ventures that are taking part this year,” says Laura Reitel, the programme director. “Each of them represents a very different approach to FinTech and shows the enormous scope of the industry. We’re looking forward to helping them validate and launch new products to market.”

Alongside eight New Zealand teams there will also be two international teams taking part – one from Singapore and the other from China. Both ventures are coming into the programme for the opportunity to validate their business offerings and to test their products within New Zealand’s progressive economy. They will also offer New Zealand teams in-depth knowledge into the Asian markets.

Kiwibank spokesperson Peter Fletcher-Dobson says of the programme: “We’re blown away by the quality and breadth of teams that applied. We’ve seen a step-up in the maturity of teams, and the strong international interest and calibre of entrepreneurs, bodes well for growing FinTech in New Zealand.”

And that’s not all Fletcher-Dobson has to say. ‘We have a great mix of teams and ideas covering technologies like blockchain, AI, bots, and robo-advice, and also truly progressive FinTech themes like, insuretech, digital ID, financial inclusion, and payments innovations.” 

Callaghan Innovation's startup manager Elena Higgison says with a significant amount of R&D going into financial technology, Aotearoa’s FinTech startups are enjoying a wealth of opportunity. “Growth for New Zealand’s 11 big FinTech companies in 2017 was an impressive 48.5 percent,” she explains. “That’s four times faster than agritech, and 16 times faster than heavy manufacturing.”

And that, she says, is a good sign. “People and businesses are desperate for technology that makes financial management smarter, quicker, and cheaper – whether it be monotonous accounting tasks, getting complex systems working together, or improved customer service. As you can see with this group, there is no shortage of potential for new ideas in this space.”

Run by startup and innovation agency Creative HQ alongside Callaghan Innovation and Kiwibank, the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator is also sponsored by a group of innovation-focused local and multinational companies, including Mastercard, Ando Insurance, Deloitte, and Simmonds Stewart.

But enough background. Let’s meet the teams striving to disrupt how we think about and what we can do with money.

BOT THE BUILDER

By utilising artificial intelligence and conversational interfaces, Bot the Builder is changing the way financial services companies communicate and develop relationships with customers. They integrate systems, services, business logic, and APIs into a natural, conversational interface (i.e chatbot).

CENTRALITY

The rise of cryptocurrencies and the use of blockchain are opening up new opportunities – and challenges – for the world of finance. A key challenge is the ability to link digital identity to real-world identity in a way that meets regulatory hurdles. Together, Centrality and Kiwibank are exploring this opportunity by developing a proof-of-concept for a digital identity on the blockchain that meets these regulatory thresholds.

CHOICE

Choice is a new way to pay in New Zealand that reduces and redistributes transaction fees for businesses, giving those savings to local charities.

FLOWCOIN

Developing a new way of paying for recurring services and subscriptions, and for receiving recurring income. Flowcoin allows people to set up and manage these payments/receipts, and enables visualising at a glance who money is flowing to and how quickly.

HITKEY

With HitKey's intelligent smartphone-keyboard technology, consumers can make payments and access other financial services functions within any social or chat applications, such as Gmail, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, and Slack.

HNRY

Hnry is an online service that automates all tax and compliance activities for freelancers, contractors, and the self-employed. They pay and file income tax, sales tax (GST/VAT), and levies (ACC), as well as provide professional insurances on a pay-as-you-go basis.

ILUMONY

Ilumony is a robo-advice platform helping more people access quality advice and make better financial decisions about KiwiSaver, investment portfolios and cryptocurrency portfolios.

STASH

Stash is a simple visual management platform for valuable items that offers millennials a customised, fuss-free insurance solution.

TĀ KOHA

Tā Koha is a crowdlending platform for Māori entrepreneurs to raise capital by involving their whānau, their communities, and those who want to see an equitable and inclusive funding landscape in Aotearoa.

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