The Swyftx factor: The Brisbane fintech taking on the world - Choose Brisbane

The Swyftx factor: The Brisbane fintech taking on the world

Brisbane-based cryptocurrency exchange Swyftx is one of Australia’s fastest growing financial technology companies – and they’re just getting started. 

Founded by Alex Harper and Angus Goldman while they were living in a Brisbane share house in 2017, Swyftx allows users to buy, sell and trade Bitcoin, Ethereum and more than 300 other cryptocurrencies on their mobile phone.

“Angus and I were both investing in cryptocurrency in 2017,” Alex remembers, “and we found there were big gaps that needed to be filled, in terms of making cryptocurrency trading accessible. We sat down and thought, ‘How can we do this better?’ And that’s how we started Swyftx.” 

The platform’s meteoric rise has seen it amass more than 600,000 users, and Alex and Angus have ambitious plans to expand the brand globally. A recently announced merger with Australian-owned share trading platform Superhero has seen that number rise to 800,000 and is expected to result in a fintech ‘super app’ with a combined valuation of $1.5 billion.

It’s been a remarkable rise, but for those who knew Alex when he was growing up, it probably isn’t that surprising. 

“I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember, pretty much since I could walk,” he laughs. “I remember harvesting chicken eggs and selling them at the local markets; I had a fruit juice stand; I mowed lawns – all the classic stuff you see from kids getting out there and having a crack. 

“In high school, I started an IT business helping my neighbours fix their computers and printers. Then I taught myself to code, and I built a mobile credit card payment app in 2015. So the combination of all of those experiences in customer support, tech and finance eventually came together to help me build Swyftx with Angus.”

Building a tech disruptor in Brisbane 

Alex says the explosive growth that Swyftx has experienced has been a testament to the team that he and Angus have built. 

“The changes have been tremendous,” he says, “from a few of us working out of what was basically a store room, to having 350 staff spread across two floors in Brisbane as well as offices in Sydney, the UK and Canada. It’s all happened really quickly, and I’d say the rate that we’ve had to scale up has been our biggest challenge. 

“The way that we’ve been able to deal with that is by recruiting really talented and experienced people. It’s a very competitive market for talent… building a tech company is the easy part. It’s attracting and retaining great people that’s difficult. But Brisbane’s been great for that, in terms of the huge migration of people from down south who have been coming up here. 

“Myself and Angus were both born and bred here in Brisbane, and it’s very close to our hearts. Brisbane is amazing when it comes to livability – public transport is easy, traffic is very good compared to everywhere else, and it’s more affordable than some other cities, so that’s been helpful for us in attracting talent.” 

Superhero team-up 

The next stage in Swyftx’s journey is its high-profile merger with Superhero, an equities trading and superannuation platform. Alex says the merger is expected to result in a first-of-its-kind platform that allows users to track and manage crypto, equities and superannuation in one place.

“I think Swyftx’s mission is bigger than just building a crypto exchange,” Alex says. “We’ve done that, and our customers clearly love that experience, so now we’re looking to expand into helping our customers build long-lasting financial freedom for themselves, their families and future generations. We’re doing that by creating a financial wellness ecosystem that goes beyond crypto.

“The merger with Superhero came about when they announced they were looking to add crypto to their platform, at the same time we announced we were looking to add equities to our platform. We started chatting, and we realised our missions were very aligned, and our teams were very complimentary to each other. 

“Rather than competing, we thought it would be better to join forces, and combine our technology and our experience to build a financial powerhouse that would create even better outcomes for our customers.” 

Recognising innovation 

Alex’s entrepreneurial instincts saw him win the Port of Brisbane Award for Young Business Person of the Year at the 2021 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards (LMBAs), while the Swyftx team won the ANZ Award for High-Growth Business.

Alex says the LMBAs play an important role in Brisbane’s business ecosystem. 

“I think it’s important that we recognise the growth and the success of businesses that are doing great things,” he says. “We’re building Swyftx into a household brand name in Australia, and that requires exposure – for our team to be seen and recognised for the great work everyone’s doing here.”

In particular, Alex encourages Brisbane businesses to take advantage of the networking opportunities that applying for the LMBAs can provide. 

“I often say that the most important thing is networking,” he stresses. “We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the networks that we’ve made here in Brisbane. And winning at the LMBAs has been amazing, in terms of networking opportunities. 

“I think it’s important for every business, every year, to get up and put yourself out there. Challenge yourself. Get a little bit uncomfortable… and if you don’t make the finals the first year, try again the second year, and the third year, and the fourth year. 

“As start-up founders, one thing we know how to do is get up, have another crack, keep going, keep pushing yourself, and keep challenging. Applying for awards like the LMBAs is an important part of building your profile, and it’s a great reward for your entire team to be recognised by the outside world for the value they’re driving.” 

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About the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards

Celebrating its 17th year, the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievements of local businesses who have inspired, innovated and excelled in these past 12 months.

All Brisbane businesses are encouraged to apply as there are 11 diverse categories including Product Innovation, High-growth Business, Outstanding Micro and Small Business, Social Enterprise and Environmental Sustainability.

Being recognised as a LMBA finalist or winner provides a unique opportunity that extends far beyond the winning moment. It accelerates business growth, forges all-important connections and raises the profiles of the businesses to achieve great success. Winners join a high-calibre group of LMBA alumni that have gone on to shape Brisbane’s business community.

Nominations are now open and close on 15 July. Visit lmba.com.au to apply.