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Can you tell us about Stone & Chalk?

Founded in Fintech in 2015, Stone & Chalk is a not-for-profit which brings together founders, investors, mentors, industry and government stakeholders into what we call an impact network, which is designed to drive growth, advocacy and commercialization. We've got campuses in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, with approximately 150 startups and scale-ups that are our physical residents. 

What do you mean by ‘impact network’?

For some time we’ve struggled with what to call ourselves, as in many ways, we are creating a new category. We run accelerator programs, we incubate companies and we're a service provider to corporates and governments. So, we've coined the term ‘impact network’ to really encapsulate what we do for our customers and the role our stakeholders play.

How would you describe Australia’s fintech ecosystem?

We've got a broad array of fintechs — everything from payments to origination platforms, compliance platforms that are enterprise grade to wealth management. There's a lot happening on alternative lending. Neobanks have been resurging over the last few years…[and] alternative credit models. There has been quite a nice explosion in both the B2C and the B2B space, either B2B or partnering through enterprise to reach the end-consumer. 

How is COVID-19 affecting fintech investment?

A lot of organizations are trying to implement new systems to help them with compliance [while] limiting manual effort and human error. Likewise, when it comes to origination, there's a lot of focus around improving cost-to-income ratios and structural cost takeout through various forms of modernization and automation of core business processes.

There’s no better way for large organizations to improve performance and reduce time and cost to market than by collaborating with startups and scale-ups and innovating from the outside in.

Alex Scandurra
CEO, Stone & Chalk

How important is collaboration with fintechs, and how are partnerships evolving?

There’s no better way for large organizations to improve performance and reduce time and cost to market than by collaborating with startups and scale-ups and innovating from the outside in.

We're seeing a lot more collaboration with larger scale fintechs compared to a few years ago. For example, Afterpay, a consumer credit provider that has only been around for 5 years and is already listed with a market cap of about US$20 billion, just launched a partnership with Qantas Loyalty in terms of allowing customers to Afterpay purchases through Qantas' loyalty program. 

What’s next for Stone & Chalk?

Stone & Chalk residents and alumni have secured over AU$520 million (~US$376 million) in funding in just 5 years from when we first commenced operations. Now, we’re taking our impact network from being a physical-centric model to a hybrid physical/digital offering. It’s a journey that we started before COVID-19, but have certainly accelerated because of it. Our vision is to bring together all leading innovators and people that are trying to solve the world's most pressing business and social challenges. And so, for us, going digital and providing support across our impact network for organizations in any location is fundamental.