Australia poised to become regional Asian financial hub
The CEO of ANZ Bank assessed the value of Asia’s financial sector has been grossly under-appreciated, and that within 15 years could be twice as big as the US’s financial sector. Mike Smith reported his findings and predictions at an Australian-China Business Council networking forum at Parliament house, and challenged Australia to gear up for change.
Mike Smith believes Australia should take advantage of the boom in Asia’s financial sector, and market itself as a regional finance hub. With the upcoming loss in jobs in the manufacturing industry and the possibility of the mining sector shrinking, Smith thinks Australians should focus on Asia as an area for potential market growth.
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"We have seen the challenges this year as Australia makes the transition from the industries which have made us so successful in the 20th century to those that will define our 21st century future," he said. "How we re-orientate our economy to support the opportunities of the Asian century and indeed China's growth is, I believe, the key foreign policy and economic reform challenge that Australia faces."
Smith also believes that investment will diversify from mining and real estate towards infrastructure, manufacturing, finance and services in the coming years, and that banks and financial products are expected to increase. Most impressively though, is the statistic that by 2015 – just next year – the 10 largest Asian nations could potential represent over half of the globe’s GDP. Currently, they represent 25 percent.
Mike Smith will be one of 600 business leaders that will be travelling with Prime Minister Tony Abbott to discuss the future of the financial and trade options between the countries. PM Abbott is specifically looking to finalise the China-Australia free trade agreement.
Business owners have a huge part to play in this, and Smith’s call to action should not go unnoticed. "For a country like Australia there is a genuine opportunity to become a specialist financial centre."
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.