David Sawn, The Australian, 18 April 2017, Full article

Local fintech outfit Assembly Payments, fresh off a major deal with eBay-owned Gumtree, has announced new global headquarters in Melbourne and plans to hire 60 staff within the next
year.

Assembly chief executive Simon Lee said the start-up, which until recently was known as PromisePay, had recently poached former Xero marketing director Kylie Kneale and ex-IBM tech lead and SecurePay CPO, Julia Bearzatto, and was ready to aggressively ramp up its recruitment.

“When you start in a particular place, there are different things you can do,” he told The Australian. “We’ve decided we want to build out the community here and make sure we’re growing the Australian and Melbourne ecosystems. We’ll be taking on another 60 people this year,  predominantly in Melbourne.”

According to Mr Lee, while Sydney has buzz around its fintech scene, Melbourne has the potential to be one of the most important financial technology centres of  the world. “It’s one of the most diverse, creative and forward-thinking cities in the region, and those are the exact traits we search for in our people, so we think some of the best tech talent in the  world can be found right here at home,” he said.

He added that eschewing the lure of Silicon Valley is by no means a sacrifice for Assembly. “Silicon Valley companies sell all around the world, as  an  e,” he said. “A couple of years ago people would ask why we don’t move to San Francisco or London, but now we’re seeing other Australian tech companies build international offices, but keep HQ at home, so it’s becoming more normal.”

Mr Lee added the new hires would be in sales, but he’d also be taking on project managers, and fraud prevention and support staff. The company has  employees across Melbourne, St Louis and Manila, and Mr Lee said Assembly considered further growing its tech team offshore, but with support from the state government it has confirmed Melbourne as its international anchor. It has taken over the top floor of a Collingwood office space.

Founded in 2013, Assembly has since raised $20 million from Australian and US  investors including Westpac’s Reinventure unit, carsales.com.au, Cultivation Capital (backed by Square cofounder Jim McKelvey), tech VC Rampersand, and 99 designs cofounder Mark  Harbottle.  It now powers online and mobile payments for more than 100 companies across the world including eBay-owned Gumtree, tradie platform hipages and on-demand platform Airtasker.

“We’ll  probably hit 120 quite comfortably by this time next year, especially off the back of these exciting deals. The type of things we’re working on will really change our business,” Mr Lee said. Victoria’s  minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, Philip Dalidakis, said people accused him from time to time of focusing too heavily on bringing international talent into Melbourne.

“Here’s an  example of us supporting homegrown success stories,” Mr Dalidakis said. “I see that as intrinsically important to the growth of our local ecosystem. We do attract some of the world’s leading tech  talent, but supporting local champions is equally important, so they can be role models to the rest of the industry here at home. “Second, it’s pretty important for jobs here at home, that rather than companies like Assembly looking offshore they keep them here. It doesn’t matter what I do, if they don’t think there’s a future for them in Melbourne they wouldn’t be here.”