ANZ chief unworried by fintech, criticises lack of women

ANZ sees no threat from Australian fintech and welcomes the competition from startups. 

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In a keynote speech at AltFi’s Australasia conference, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said that the ANZ saw no threat from tiny fintechs and added that ANZ thought in numbers the size of which startups could only dream. “We have to think in billions of dollars, not millions,” he said. 

“We have something that you don’t have: we have customers, we have five million customers here in Australia alone. You don’t. You want them—I understand that.”

“You have something [that] we don’t have: good ideas and you have new technology and you have better ways of doing things, so there is a natural way of trying to figure out how to work ­together to do that.”

Given the competition between fintechs and banks, Mr Elliott gave no indication of what greater cooperation might look like. But he said that there was space for fintechs, albeit beneath banking. 

“There is definitely a market for P2P lending and it will grow. But will it overtake banking any time soon? No.”

In a curious twist, when asked about the politically sensitive issue of sharing bank data he said ANZ was open to sharing and supportive of government intervention. The big banks are widely regarded as some of the strongest opponents of open data laws. 

“We already do share data if you want to take your data and share it, you can already do that. The government is keen to allow API access and to bank data. I don’t have a problem with that; I can see that that can be a good thing.

“Its our customers data and we have a responsibility to look after that and protect it. So if our customers want us to move it then we should move it. There is lots of opportunity there but there are risks. We should be really thoughtful about it. I know people will criticise the banks and say we’re trying to slow that down. We all know people who have experienced frauds. If we open data too quickly there are real risks there.”

In his closing remarks he took it upon himself to comment on the well-noticed lack of gender diversity in fintech, including at the conference. “You do have a diversity problem in the industry if this room is representative.”

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