ASX backs blockchain-friendly Grow Inc

Grow Inc is the fund administration arm of Grow, which also has its own Millennial-focused super offerings. The company – founded in 2017 – made a push into fund administration in 2019 and its flagship product is called the DLTA platform, which uses distributed ledger technology – commonly known as the blockchain – to boost its security compared to other administration platforms.

It counts Citigroup Global Markets, IOOF and insurance outfit Greenstone as shareholders. Grow recently beat out the likes of ASX-listed Link Group, US giant Mercer and New Zealand-founded FNZ to snare the contract to run the back office for global asset manager Vanguard’s push into the local superannuation sector.

Our technology challenges the status quo of legacy platforms in the Australian financial services industry.

Mathew Keeley, Grow Inc chief executive

The Morrison government is attempting to pass legislation mandating more detail in superannuation portfolio disclosures, while Vanguard’s local superannuation offering recently appointed former MLC executive Peggy O’Neal, a former adviser to the government’s Strong Super reforms, as its chairman.

A spokesman for the ASX said the investment “aligns closely” with the group’s strategy “to drive efficiency in financial services using distributed ledger technology”.

“Grow’s platform uses DLT and they have recently signed with some important new customers who can also see the benefits of this technology,” the ASX said.

“We are impressed by Grow and they have an excellent management team. ASX continues to work with various fintechs across several sectors where we believe DLT can bring efficiency and cost savings to the industry.”

In his note to staff Mr Keeley said having the ASX and AirTree as key investors “provides an exciting opportunity for GROW Inc to not only expand our capital base, but also lift our profile as a company”.

A note from Ms Vullinghs sent to Grow Inc staff said AirTree’s backing of Grow demonstrated the potential seen to “make the entire finance industry in Australia more efficient”.

AirTree has poured cash into software group Canva, fintech lender Athena, Energy finance start-up Brighte, online learning platform A Cloud Guru, and Prospa, among others.

In a statement to The Australian Financial Review, Mr Keeley said the company had made “extraordinary progress” in recent years.

“Our technology challenges the status quo of legacy platforms in the Australian financial services industry. Based on our current investment trajectory, we expect this to extend to a broader, global application of our technology in the years to come,” he said.

“Our mission is simple – to empower businesses, developers and entrepreneurs to create the future of finance through distributed ledger technology.”

The investment from the ASX comes as the exchange forges ahead with the upgrade of its CHESS system with distributed ledger technology, which has not been used before for critical market infrastructure anywhere in the world.

ASX, which in October pushed the go-live date for the new system back another year to April 2023, has been troublesome for the exchange.

Grow also offers a number of tools to help drive engagement with super.

These include a spare change round-up tool and functionality where a member gets a message when their super contribution from their employer hits their account and notifies them if they miss out on a payment.