California dreaming: Why Aussie fintechs are looking abroad
Peter Colbert believes Australia may be too small for the number of fintech companies it is producing.
“There are only so many people in our country: 26 million, and that includes one year olds. What’s the real number of potential customers out there?” the founder of contactless payments company Inamo says.
Inamo’s products include a waterproof plastic payments chip it promoted to Australia’s surfing and sports communities as an easy way of paying for anything without having to cart around a wallet.
The business also developed a prototype for “Paywave sunglasses” with Visa back in 2016 and was focused on growing its base down under.
But the game changed when Colbert was travelling in the US and ordered a cup of coffee. Not knowing whether his Australian-designed Inamo chip would work abroad, he decided to give it a go.
“It went through, and I just thought, ‘wow’,” Colbert says.
Making the move
Months later Colbert decided to relocate Inamo, which had launched off a $1.5 million round of seed investment and was turning over around $500,000, to Santa Monica.
The startup is now quietly undertaking a pilot program for its contactless payments tech in the US with Mastercard.
It’s a move Colbert says is critical for growth, because while chip cards and devices are second-nature in Australia, the US consumer has only started taking up contactless technology in the past 12 months.
“Everyone talks about cracking the US – I’m really going to try and crack it,” Colbert says.
“But there is naivety in Australia in what it’s going to take to break into payments in the US. It is an absolute minefield.”
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