Red Bird Ventures, the corporate venture capital fund of Westpac NZ, has led a $1.4m investment round into Kiwi fintech Akahu, alongside co-investors K1W1 and NZ7 Investments.
As well as the investment, the partnership will provide the bank with valuable insight to support Westpac’s design and delivery of open banking solutions.
Akahu is the leading provider of open finance connectivity in New Zealand. By simplifying and streamlining the connection between banks and third parties, it enables consumers to access new payment options and have better control over who can use their account data.
Red Bird Ventures Senior Manager Mark Colley says the bank is excited to use Akahu’s open banking expertise to deliver new banking experiences for its customers.
“Akahu has demonstrated its strength in innovation over the last few years and we believe it is well positioned to grow, as industry commitments and consumer data right legislation bring open banking to New Zealand,” Mr Colley says.
“We first invested in Akahu in December 2020. This second investment underscores our support for Akahu and gives the company the financial backing to continue to help give New Zealanders more control over their banking data.
“We’re excited about the possibilities open banking will bring for New Zealand and we’ll continue to support innovation and collaboration in the ecosystem through our investments.”
Akahu Founder and CEO Ben Lynch says that it’s encouraging to see open banking picking up momentum.
“We’re proud and excited to be working with Westpac to deliver meaningful open banking solutions for customers,” Mr Lynch says.
“When we started this work, there were very few examples of open banking in action – it was basically Xero, a few payment products, budgeting tools, and loan applications. Fast forward to 2023, and we’re seeing multiple new products launch with open banking capabilities every month.
“Collaboration is exactly what’s needed from banks to truly realise the benefits of open banking for their customers. It’s great to see Westpac leaning into this, and we’re committed to working with any bank in New Zealand that wants to enable its customers in a similar way.”
About Red Bird
Red Bird Ventures is the corporate venture capital fund of Westpac NZ that invests in strategically aligned companies. It invests in growth companies that are aligned to Westpac NZ’s core services or focus on solutions for the wider the financial sector.
Alongside investment, Red Bird also facilitates commercial partnerships with Westpac NZ to add further revenue to its portfolio companies.
Akahu provides open finance infrastructure for New Zealand.
Through a suite of data integrations with banks and other financial service providers, Akahu provides a simple way for people to connect their financial accounts to trusted third party products.
Akahu has been in market since early 2021, and provides open banking API services to a broad range of Government, corporate, and fintech customers.
Akahu supports the development of a Consumer Data Right in New Zealand, and intends to evolve into the regulatory regime when it rolls out.