How fintech can turn Australians into more responsible pet owners

Andrew Munro 30 August 2017 NEWS

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The answer? Make vets better.

Australians love their pets, but apparently not enough to take them to the vet. There are pets in almost two-thirds of Australian households but only about half seem to get the medical care they need. To resolve this problem, fintech startup Knose Everyday Pet Care has just put forward a new idea and has already sourced half a million dollars in an oversubscribed seed capital raise to make it a reality.

What's the problem?

The country has about as many pets as people, with 24 million animals sharing our homes in 62% of households Australia-wide. Only about half of these pets get the medical care they need.

It's not that pet owners don't care, but rather than they're turning to the internet and pet stores for veterinary advice rather than actually visiting a qualified vet. If Australia's animal care record is any indication, they're either receiving bad advice or choosing to ignore good advice.

  • Only 53% of dog owners and 47% of cat owners have vaccinated their pets
  • 21% of dogs and 35% of cats didn't get a vet checkup in 2016

And it's not necessarily about the money because Australians are spending way more on their pets than ever before. This is despite the number of pets remaining relatively steady in recent years.

  • The total amount spent on pets in Australia increased by 34% between 2013 and 2016
  • The amount spend on vets in Australia increased by only 10% between 2013 and 2016

What's the plan?

The plan is to simply have vets offer affordable pet wellness plans on a subscription basis. Predictable expenses mean owners won't need to "opt in" to necessary expenses like vaccinations and check-ups, and can simply get it all as part of the package. Generally, it's designed to close the gap between pet owners and vets.

The product itself is a customisable platform for vets, integrated with the other Knose vet applications such as banking, stock management and delivery. This way vets can create their own pet health plans and set their own prices, all in one place.

"The decrease in owners seeking advice from highly trained professionals is disturbing," said Nathan Harris, Knose CEO and co-founder. "It was really important to us that we build a platform that allowed vets to set their own protocols and pricing... We want to make the vet front and centre of the pet industry’s growth."

With this extra efficiency, smaller vets might also be better able to compete on price with larger competitors in their area while bringing more of a personal touch back to vet care.

In true fintech style, Knose Everyday Pet Care seems to have all the makings of a disruptor.

This also extends to the pet insurance industry. Much like veterinary care as a whole, it's gone largely underutilised relative to Australia's exceptionally high rates of pet ownership. In many ways, the Knose Everyday Care platform gives vets a way to create their own pet insurance policy, cutting out the middleman and overhead of going through an insurer. Just like pet insurance, vets can even include and exclude medical services of their choice.

"The service takes care of all the technology, communications, compliance, administration, and product delivery leaving vets free to run their practice and look after their clients and their pets... All the vet has to do is confirm the services they want to be included and get back to seeing more pets," the announcement said.

Putting this level of control in the hands of vets can lead to a much more competitive veterinary market, and hopefully, help more Australians get their pets to the vet more often.

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