Posted: 25 Mar. 2022 10 min. read

Small enough to dream, big enough to do - why NAB is backing Aussie tech

Small enough to dream, big enough to do – why NAB is backing Aussie tech

Sponsoring Tech Fast 50 is just one way NAB supports and champions Australian tech companies. We caught up with Lu Li, Head of Emerging Technology Clients at NAB Corporate & Institutional Banking to find out what it takes to get high-growth companies to the next level, industry trends and innovations and NAB’S $2 billion pledge to emerging tech companies. 

Why is supporting the technology sector so important to NAB?

As Australia’s largest bank for business, we recognise that the tech sector is a growing and vital division of our business landscape.  It supports and facilitates both our domestic and export markets, bringing new ideas and solutions to lift productivity and resilience in our economy, and provides opportunities for our workforce of the future. We believe in the emerging tech story and are proud to support this critical part of the Australian market.

Tell us about NAB’s $2 billion pledge to emerging tech companies

NAB pledged to deliver up to $2 billion in financing, via loans or access to capital markets, over five years from June 2019 to help emerging technology companies build and grow their businesses. After supporting some of the biggest names in the sector, the 2019 commitment has surpassed its target early - in just over two years - with a cumulative $2.43 billion debt funding delivered[1] that places new technology financing firmly in the bank’s DNA and business practice.

What type of businesses does NAB support and how do they use their funds to grow?

We support a broad range of companies across the emerging tech sector including fintechs, energytechs, SaaS providers, platform providers and eCommerce across a full suite of banking solutions. We understand that tech companies, particularly in the early stage of their development, need different types of support at different stages of the corporate life cycle.  This ranges from simple working capital support funding, structured asset base funding all the way through to acquisition funding via both direct funding or access to private or public capital markets. The majority of our $2 billion commitment has been deployed to-date in supporting fast growth earlier-stage fintech companies via wholesale funding solutions, given the sector is more capital intensive than other areas of tech. We continue to provide this support to our tech clients, along with a full suite of other tools and solutions for fast-growing businesses. 

What trends have you noticed through working with these high-growth tech companies?

We would classify 2021 as the ‘year of the fintech’, with a significant number of new entrants bringing exciting solutions for both consumer and business finance, and payments needs. Some of the key trends we noticed in 2021 are:

  • Abundant and growing interest from venture capital and private capital investors in high-growth tech companies have supported the sector growth, larger fund raising and deal sizes in a variety of fintech and tech subsectors in 2021; 
  • COVID related digital innovation and changing consumer behaviours have further accelerated growth, maturity and consolidation of the sector particularly financial 
  • New industry and business models will continue entering the fintech space as embedded finance and banking-as-a-service solutions are becoming more common, and organisations are increasingly interested in ways to partner with or acquire tech companies to create an extended experience for their customers or to remove friction. 
  • Increasing value of customer data is driving market entrance of tech platforms with scale owned by big tech, big retail or large financial institutions; ability to leverage great digital customer experience, artificial intelligence and real time open data to meet customer expectations will be a competitive advantage. 
  • ESG and demonstrating positive impact on climate, social and financial health have become increasingly relevant for founders, Board, shareholders, and ongoing access to investors and new capital. 
  • We’ve also seen an increasing focus on cybersecurity, both in terms of the number of companies delivering solutions to this growing concern and also in interest and demand from our broader business client base for greater knowledge and tools to help combat cybercrime. 

What’s your advice for emerging tech companies or high-growth companies looking to take their business to the next level?

A key theme we see with tech clients that are growing rapidly, and really leading in their segment, is that they have a clear strategy on their competitive positioning and strengths and are laser-focussed on understanding and delivering to their target customers. As a segment, tech has proven to be resilient against lockdowns and uncertainty, with the growth path unaltered for many.

Are there any new technology innovations that you are excited about?

We’re seeing exciting developments in green technology that will have a real impact on developing and scaling climate solutions for the benefit of us all.

Mitigating climate change requires changing the way we use energy. Recent tech-driven innovations to bring down the cost of generating and storing renewable energy will play a big part in reducing our carbon emissions.

We are also seeing that application of blockchain technology has rapidly evolved in 2021 with new innovative projects, regulatory and risk framework continue to be explored. The rise of decentralised finance and central bank digital currencies will challenge the model of traditional financial services and potentially transform areas like payments, lending solutions, trading, clearance and settlement. 

What’s special about Australia’s tech companies and the founders and leaders in this space?

Australian tech companies are characterised by their ingenuity and commitment to success. Tech company leaders are great at solving challenges of the consumer and business market and to bringing these solutions to the world.  We’re small enough to dream and big enough to do!

Tech Fast 50 provides encouragement and well-deserved recognition to tech companies leading the way in their field.  It’s also a great way to increase connections between emerging tech companies and other organisations that are involved with the program.

Mark your calendars and join us LIVE

We will be broadcasting the Tech Fast 50 event live on April 7. The link will go live at 9 am, but the awards evening will commence at 5:30pm. Be sure to follow the below process and share it with your teams, so you can join the winners as they celebrate their success.

  1. Type the following URL into your browser: techfast502021.anzpac.chime.live
  2. Click ‘Register’ and fill out the form.
  3. Once you have successfully submitted the form, you will be asked to verify your details and then automatically logged in.

[1] As of 30 September 2021. NAB 2021 Sustainability Data Pack.

More about the author

Joshua Tanchel

Joshua Tanchel

Partner, Technology Fast 50 Australia Lead

Joshua is a partner in Deloitte Private and leads the Sydney Deloitte middle market technology program, which includes the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program. He also sits on the Deloitte technology, media and telecommunications industry group national executive leadership team. Joshua has over 20 years' experience working with technology growth companies from start up to exit/IPO in both an audit and strategic advisory role, understanding their lifecycle needs and matching this to the broad capability of Deloitte. His areas of specialisation include audit, accounting, investigating accountants reports and business advisory.