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Budget 2022: Aus Fintech wishlist prioritises digital initiative funding

From wanting strict bank license red tape eased to wanting more funding for digital initiatives, Australia’s sectors want more to be done and Fintech is no exception.  

Ahead of tonight’s Federal Budget, the national fintech association Fintech Australia, wants the government to focus on R&D, expand overseas outreach, and attract overseas talent to Australia.

In particular, Fintech Aus is confident that now is the chance to greatly accelerate the sector with the right tax incentives.

Fintech Aus CEO Andrew Porter made the following suggestions for policy changes: “An increase in R&D spending, bringing Australia in line with other leading OECD countries…creation of patent box for early technology companies, with a focus on early-stage fintech companies.”

In the 2021-2022 Budget, the government introduced a patent box to incentivise companies to develop and apply their medical and biotechnology innovations in Australia.

They were taxed at a 17 per cent concessional rate to encourage innovations within Australia. However, Fintech Australia is now zeroing in on the significance of these patent boxes for fintech companies.

The fintech bridge program

Fintech Australia also recognised the importance of funding to expand Australian fintech’s reach abroad and suggested further policy changes.

“Further funding for the fintech bridge program to support founders expanding abroad, commitment towards more overseas roadshows for Australian fintech businesses to assist with overseas expansion”, CEO Porter suggested, “and expansion of programs to encourage overseas fintech to use Australia as a regional hub for the Asia Pacific region.”

The Fintech bridge program is a collaboration between the Australian and UK governments and is considered pivotal in reinforcing the ties between the two leading FinTech hubs. As part of the 2020-2021 Budget, the government delivered an $800 million Digital JobMaker plan which included investment in the Fintech bridge program. Now, Fintech is suggesting there should be more funding.

In a 2021 media release, former Fintech Australia CEO Rebecca-Schot Guppy stated the Fintech Bridge Agreement makes Australia an attractive destination for foreign investment. Fintech Australia is placing high importance on the bridge program as they did in the past.

Fintech Aus is adamant that now is the time to bring overseas talent in to keep up with the economy’s needs.

According to a 2021 report by ACS Digital Pulse, Australia’s technology workforce grew by 33,400 over 2020, reaching a new peak of 805,525 workers and representing a 4.3 per cent annual increase. However, due to the increasingly high demand for digital skills, there will need to be additional workers available.

“The shortage of technology talent in Australia has slowed growth and increased costs for many of our members. In the past year it has come into focus as the greatest challenge facing our sector,” CEO Porter stated.

In 2021-22, there are only 15,000 places on offer for the GTI and, to be eligible, candidates must be highly skilled in one of 10 target sectors. They must also prove their professional achievement, for example, by being the recipient of professional awards or maintaining senior roles. Additionally, they must have the ability to attract a salary at or above A$158,500, according to the Immigration Home Affairs Department. 

The number of places on offer has remained stagnant since the 2020-21 migration programme year. This, coupled with the high eligibility requirements and the processing time can cause Australia to miss out on talented technology workers when Australia desperately needs them.

Fintech Australia also touched on the regulation of cryptocurrency and NFTs and how policies must protect consumers. Additionally, they want Australians to be assisted in adopting new technologies such as open banking and PayTo. 

Time will tell if Fintech Australia’s wishes will become a reality when the Budget is announced tonight. 

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Nour Ahmad

Nour Ahmad

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