We’re starting of series of posts with fintech founders around the world. This should serve as an inspiration for anybody wanting to get their hands dirty and come up with a solution for an everyday problem they face.
The first installment is an interview with Jason Kaye, the CEO of WealthNation, the Australian savings app we learned from the weekly New Finance newsletter, a big community focused on fintech, based in London. Jason was kind enough to answer some questions about their product and vision.
Fintech Camp: Give us the 2-liner description of WealthNation.
Jason: WealthNation is fresh savings app that turns small amounts of money into fun amounts of money. Every time you spend on your card we’ll round up the transaction to the nearest dollar and stash the difference in a separate, at call, fee free savings account which you can use as you please.
What’s the problem you are trying to solve?
Younger generations watched from the school yard as the Big Financial Crisis of ‘08-’09 brought the world to its knees. And they came of age as their parents were grappling with increasing insecurity, the ever growing cost of living and the near normalisation of corporate scandals. Now they’re grappling with those problems.
But the old world game plan for financial “success” – start early, think long-term, budget, invest, retirement – remains largely unchanged. It’s all so clinical and uninspiring. And being pushed on generations that play by those rules.
But what use is investing if you struggle to even save money? What use is taking a 5 to 7+ year outlook if all you want to do is save to go an overseas adventure with your friends in 12 months? That’s the problem we’re solving. Making it easy to save for the things that will put a smile on your face, that help you experience life – today. Not tomorrow.
Too many companies are trying to tell people what they should be doing and then trying to get them to change their behaviours. Not us. We’d rather support your behaviours – who are we to tell you what you should be doing with your money? It’s your life, go live it – and leave the saving to us.
“Disciplined, customer-focused execution is what we zero in on at this stage of our life”
How many people on your team have prior experience in the financial/fintech scene?
Our team consists of two co-founders – myself and Tony Zakula. Before WealthNation I had spent over a decade working in an Australian headquartered multinational bank, ANZ. Tony was the VP of Engineering and CFO at Silicon Valley startup Expensify. WealthNation is the result of an interesting mix of fintech experience (Tony) and financial services experience (myself). We think that’s a great starting combination.
How large is the addressable market you’re targeting?
We’re targeting the ~70% of Gen Y/Z that struggle to save regularly. In total there’s billions of them so in theory it’s a huge market. But theory is one thing – getting out and actually delivering value to 5 people, then 100, then a 1,000 is another. So whilst we see a huge market opportunity and that’s pretty exciting, disciplined, customer focused execution is what we zero in on at this stage of our life.
The number of Australian fintech startups has doubled in the past 2 years
What’s the most complicated problem that WealthNation has had since starting operations and a tip about overcoming it?
Integrating our tech into an established bank’s platform seemed to throw up its fair share of challenges in the earlier days. Overcoming those types of challenges often just requires some patience and a realisation that big banks are unlikely to make changes to their platforms to accommodate – so you just have to figure it out.
3 things we should be aware of on fintech in Australia.
- It’s estimated that the number of fintechs operating in Australia is now approaching 600, having more than doubled since 2015.
- The global average for fintech adoption was 33% ► Australia ranked 5th with a 37% adoption rating. While in the shadows of the quite different markets of China (69%) and India (52%), Australia is on par with other developed economies with similar financial systems (e.g. US and UK).
- The average monthly burn rate for fintech startups in Australia is $115,000 (AUD), about EUR 75,000.
What’s the roadmap of WealthNation in the coming year?
Now that we have a first working version in private beta, over the next 12 months we’ll be focusing on 3 things:
- Raising a seed round
- Using that cash to really nail market/product fit (and then commencing a global scaling round)
- Identifying potential international banking partners who see the same strategic value in our business model that our Australian banking partner saw – “new to bank” retail deposit volume from 18-24’s delivered by a fresh, flexible, scalable 3rd party tech/brand.
What fintech startup would like to hear more about? Drop us an e-mail at [email protected] and we’ll see that it happens!