KPMG Australia has launched mLabs, an accelerator program aimed at connecting credit unions and mutual banks with the domestic fintech startup community. The firm has selected 14 fintech startups to join the program, including Fitchain and Moneycatcha, two blockchain ventures.
Moneycatcha is a loan origination solution built on blockchain technology that allows to reduce the loan origination and funding process time from an industry average of 42 days to 5 days.
Fitchain, developed by KPMG Australia, is a fitness-based reward program powered by blockchain technology. Available to KPMG Australia employees, Fitchain rewards users for physical activity and promotes a healthy lifestyle. The mobile app goes with the Fitbit wristband.
Over the course of the 12-week program, the teams will work with seven Australian mutual banks and credit unions: Beyond Bank, CUA, Greater Bank, Heritage, IMB Bank, Police Bank, and Teachers Mutual Bank. The KPMG mLabs accelerator is hosted in Sydney at KPMG’s Barangaroo office and at fintech hub Stone & Chalk.
The program was designed to foster collaboration between banks and startups to co-create commercial solutions to business challenges. They will work together to ideate new solutions, test assumptions and create and prototype products and services.
According to Ian Pollari, KPMG’s global co-lead for fintech, established organizations are increasingly recognizing the strategic importance of engaging with and sourcing capability from the fintech startup community.
“The objective of KPMG mLabs is to systematically foster greater levels of collaboration between the participating mutual ADIs and fintech startups,” Pollari said.
“The mutuals are eager to engage the startup community and for the fintech ventures, the prospect of innovating with the mutuals, who represent a combined customer base of more than two million, is a very attractive proposition.”
James Mabbott, head of KPMG Innovate, believes that mutuals are well placed to implement new technologies and ideas.
“KPMG mLabs is designed to catalyze this process,” Mabbott said. “It will be a platform for collaboration and a safe space for experimentation – and help bring some exciting new services to life for mutual banks and credit unions and their customers.”
Alongside Moneycatcha and Fitchain, other startups selected for the program include Avoka, a digital customer acquisition and sales platform for financial services, government, education and other industries; Brighte, a point of sale credit and payments provider; Chekk, a digital entity startup; DSYNC, an integration platform that connects apps, website and business systems; Easyshare, an online platform for payments of shared house, residential and commercial rent, bills and expenses; Edstart, a financing solution for private school fees; and Pocketbook, a free budget planner.
Besides the KPMG mLabs, KPMG Australia is also involved in elevate61, a program focusing on helping Australian businesses expand globally, notably to the US market.
In a report released in June, KPMG explained the opportunities related to blockchain and consensus mechanisms in the financial services industry, technologies that have sparked a new wave of innovation.
“Consensus mechanisms, which provide the technology infrastructure for blockchain and other continuously evolving distributed ledger technologies, hold tremendous potential for financial services,” the firm wrote in a separate blog post.
“They offer the potential to execute transactions in discreet, efficient, and highly cost effective new ways than the existing centralized network in financial services. […]
“It’s an opportune time to think through how distributed ledger technologies can be effectively and efficiently used to overcome previous challenges and seize a host of potential new opportunities for the future.”