Speaking at the AltFi Australasia Summit in Sydney yesterday, Macquarie head of corporate development and strategy for banking and financial services, Ben Perham, was asked about the threat of 'digitisation' to the big banks.

"The ambitions of Apple and Google and so forth are hard to predict, they probably change a lot," Mr Perham said, "but certainly when we talk to them, they’re not interested in being a regulated financial services business."

Apple and Google are, however, definitely interested in "participating" in the fintech space – with the payments area "critical" when it comes to digital disruption.

"But that’s at the level of customer interface rather than at the level of the rails that actually run the payments system," Mr Perham said.

"So I’ve got no doubt that Apple’s got big aspirations and obviously a lot of cash to do whatever they like, but in terms of the next evolution of change, I don’t see that coming so much from Apple and Google."

Mr Perham said he is confident the top five Australian banks will still be around in 20 years' time.

"Personally, I don’t see us being replaced. [The rise of fintech is] more about partnering," he said. "I’d be very, very surprised if the largest five banks in Australia aren’t the largest five banks in 20 years’ time."

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