Fintech can help Australia lead regional innovation

| March 24, 2019

Australia has the potential to become the leading hub for tech and innovation in the Southern Hemisphere. But will our agile ‘kangaroo’ spirit and supportive mate mentality be enough to jump the chasm separating us from other developed nations in the region?

The standard of living and quality of life in Australia is second to none.  We enjoy clean air, pristine beaches, strong rule of law, healthy level of education and great public sector services. There should be no problem retaining our best and brightest and attracting talent to these shores.

However, we’re in 2019 and the most valuable economic sectors in Australia are mining and resources, real estate, properties and education. It seems that significant effort has to be put to transition Australia’s economy to the technology sector. One reason is that while Australia is huge island blessed with natural resources it seems remote from the rest of the world.

The need to embrace the future is clear, but the question is how should Australia transition into a globally competitive, innovation-based economy.


Countries that put innovation at the centre of their economy are poised to become the global leaders of the economy in the future and secure a high-quality and sustainable standard of living for their residents.

Australians tend to be financially and technologically savvy, and so it’s no wonder that the financial sector in Australia is one clear leader of innovation.  One can simply observe the companies and brands starring on the tallest sky scrapers in Sydney CBD to understand who are the leaders in Australia’s economy.

To build on this strength and start establishing the next wave of entrepreneurial economic activities, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) recently established the FinTech Sandbox.  While it’s a great initiative, the uptake has been considered disappointing, with FinTech start-ups chafing at what they see as restrictive criteria.

Start-ups have to jump some significant hurdles before they can even start to use the Sandbox, and the rules which mean they must serve less than 100 clients, test for less than a year, and cap customer deposits at $10,000 have put off a number of potential companies. Hopefully this will improve in the future iterations of the FinTech sandbox programs.

Quantum Computing

Quantum technologies is another area into which Australia has invested time, effort and resources over the couple of decades.  Academics have been working hard to establish leadership in the field, and several quantum technologies research centres have been established in various universities and research institutions.

The most globally renowned initiative is the Center for Quantum Computation and Communication Technologies ( CQC2T ) based at the University of New South Wales.  Other leading research centres include EQUS in Queensland, the Perimeter Institute, Microsoft Station Q and a range of other smaller programs.

However, it’s important to understand that this technology remains at an early stage of development for the time being, and there’s no certainty that commercially viable applications will be achieved very soon.

We’re still quite far from a production-ready general-purpose quantum computer,  and some even say it’s not certain that the laws of physics would permit arriving at this lucrative achievement. Researchers still haven’t managed to simultaneously fulfill all of the requirement as they are outlined in Di-Vincenzo’s Criteria with a working setup.

Despite these doubts, the future remains bright, and it was recently announced that a quantum academy will be opened in Sydney.  This additional training resource will help talented young Australians gain important skills and deep science capabilities to produce cutting-edge technology we need to transition towards an innovation-based economy.