Stone & Chalk ramps up plans for a Melbourne expansion

Sydney fintech hub Stone & Chalk is set to expand to Melbourne after applying for Victoria’s $60 million innovation fund and approaching potential partners for up to $2 million in funding.

As the Australian reports, Stone & Chalk chief executive Alex Scandurra has confirmed that the independent not-for-profit applied for the LaunchVic startup fund, which contributes funding for projects that help build the infrastructure around the ecosystem.

The funding would be used to set up a similar specialised fintech co-working space in the heart of Melbourne, something that the city has “desperately” needed for more than a year, MoneyPlace CEO and Fintech Australia board member Stuart Stoyan says.

“A hub will become a much needed epicentre of the fintech community, providing a dedicated support network for early-stage fintechs,” Stoyan tells StartupSmart.

“It is also key to helping foster better collaboration between fintechs and corporates. It is time that Melbourne’s thriving fintech community has a dedicated hub.”

A fintech hub was an underlying theme in last year’s Melbourne Fintech Survey, where 52 local startups where asked about what was holding the ecosystem back.

The survey found that the local community thought the Melbourne sector was “lagging behind” the rest of Australia and global ecosystems because of a lack of a hub, and one was needed to “anchor” the sector.

Stoyan points out that Melbourne boasts the largest fintech meetup group in the southern hemisphere and local financial services startups employ over 500 people.

The Victorian government has also signalled its support of a Stone & Chalk expansion, with minister for innovation Philip Dalidakis saying it is another vote of confidence in the local startup sector.

“The biggest community in Australia for fintech right now is here in Melbourne, and Stone & Chalk wanting to branch out here shows that we are getting it right,” Dalidakis tells StartupSmart.

“We are pursuing the correct policy for fintech, providing the right support for fintech and more importantly growing the fintech sector.

“Our direction towards growing cyber security absolutely underpins everything we do to support our local fintech companies and that’s why you will see more and more Stone & Chalks establish bases here in Melbourne.”

Stoyan says this support is an important step.

“Most importantly it is exciting to see the Victorian government supporting this and recognising the importance of fintech,” he says.

“It would be great for Stone & Chalk to use Melbourne as a launch pad for a national expansion.

“It has been almost 12 months since the fintech community called for a hub. Hopefully it doesn’t take another 12 months before one is established here.”

Stone & Chalk officially opened for business in August last year and now houses over 70 fintech startups in the middle of Sydney.

Dubbing itself the “centre of gravity for fintech in Australia”, the co-working space has a range of corporate sponsors, including ANZ, American Express and IBM.

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