Despite the attractions of a more tech-savvy ASX, the Denver-based, Sydney-inspired financial services “enabler,” Avoka has told AB+F the fast-transitioning technology leader is “absolutely not” locked into a homecoming listing any time soon.
Phil Copeland’s blossoming digital customer acquisition strategy has seen Avoka undertake its own high-speed transformation.
Following the June closure of a $16 million capital raising and the appointment this week of a new CFO, the latest in a talent acquisition spree, the co-founder and chief executive said Avoka is weighing “a lot” of prospective funding options and - with Avoka’s own significant revenue generation - is enjoying rarely attainable high-ground for what the market calls “fintech.”
Contrary to a popular refrain, Copeland said Australia is in fact a “great place” to raise funding.
“Particularly, the tech of ASX is very strong now, and apart from some recent, ridiculously small, pretty silly (technology) listings, it’s extremely positive that in Australia we have a very strong ASX, well governed and a great place to raise funding,” he said.
Avoka’s measured expansion to date, which has seen the financial services software platform (enabling banks to accelerate digital customer onboarding), expand its personnel in six months from 90 to 150 means Copeland’s team can now choose when and where the money comes from.
“There is real enthusiasm and traction for a product that can challenge the existing financial services sector,” he said.
“We have a lot of options here in North America. There is a lot of traction for Avoka. The company is growing - in many segments at 60 to 70 per cent. And in some segments we have been seeing over 100 per cent growth, this is true particularly in the European market, starting from a smaller base."
Hiring local, going global
With a local client base that includes Westpac and more recent international clients from HSBC UK to Citi, Avoka is generating just shy of $20 million annually, and banking sector demand for its SaaS solutions for online and mobile engagement is building.
Don Bergal, chief marketing officer at Avoka, said tapping Australia’s pool of engineering talent to meet the global demand around digital transition in global banking will unlock Avoka’s product uptake globally.
“We’ve built upon the great energy and potential for our product. Where previously we’d been contained by a capacity to service the long sales cycle, the (June) funding allows us to address all the potential opportunities and capitalise on demand," he said.
With product development largely emanating from Australia, Bergal said engineering talent is “far easier to source in Australia and we have some of the world’s best tech talent".
“Leveraging a base of 60 – 70 employees, familiar with the market, and with a strong working knowledge of what we do, we’ve been able to build an experienced team, strategically based out of Colorado, while avoiding the talent and competition bottleneck of Silicon Valley," he said.
According to Bergal the latest iteration of Avoka’s Transact platform allows banks to fast-forward customer-facing mobile and digital interface production by 70 to 80 per cent, while enhancing their ability to iterate and make improvements going forward.
The disruptive enabler
Reluctant to refer to the company as a fintech, Copeland prefers to describe a division in tech-conceived companies engaging in the financial solution space as disruptors and enablers, with Avoka being an enabler.
However, its possible the former architect has misread the line between Avoka’s challenge of the status quo - in the same way disruptive concepts are often described - and Avoka’s brief of empowering financial service providers to enable themselves.
“In many ways business and commercial banking is still in the dark ages. There is a complexity of product that needs a company with an ability to create a digital engagement layer in the front office without hitting the back office," he said.
"So by being loosely coupled through an external system they can avoid fumbling into a long back-office process. We are a front-office solution which allows operation with the back office. It opens up a lot of options."
According to Copeland, right now the challenge banks are facing is customers are expecting a complete break from traditional branch banking.
“Customers have high expectations of what a bank should be and the customer experience should be more uniform, more seamless and more … Amazon-like," he said. “We make it possible to rapidly enable a move from legacy systems to customer acquisition through digital transformation,” he said.