News Pulse for November 30, 2016

A daily download of SME, startup, fintech and tax news from around Australia.

Banks’ treatment scrutinised

The battlelines have been drawn for today’s public hearings of senior major bank executives, overseen by Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell.

Carnell, who will finalise a report in the next two weeks on the adequacy of the law and banking industry practices in the small business sector, will probe the bankers on loan contract procedures, dispute resolution services and the treatment of valuations.

1 in 10 Australian businesses don’t want to interact with their bank

New research from banking analysts East & Partners has revealed one in 10 Australian small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) don’t want any interaction with their bank at all. The research involved interviews with 1,500 Australian firms with annual turnover of $1-20 million as part of the SME Transaction Banking Markets Program.

The research also showed that 96% of businesses surveyed confirmed that the Internet was their first preference for contact, which amounts to more than one in every three Australian SMEs.

ANZ gives ground to Carnell

ANZ Bank has made a series of concessions to an inquiry into questionable small-business lending practices, including a commitment to give customers three months’ notice of any intention to withdraw a lending ­facility.

Why do small business loans only go up to $1 million?

Kate Carnell launched the first day of the small business banking inquiry by asking the ANZ why they cut off small business loans at the arbitrary figure of $1 million.

“What made you – the bank – decide that $1 million was the right figure for small business? It’s a pretty low figure now. I think in the EU and other places it’s now acknowledged that that is too low,” she asked of Graham Hodges, deputy chief executive.

Innovation slow in Australia: Deloitte

Deloitte Chief Strategy Officer for Australia John Meacock says corporate business leaders have been too slow to shift their business models towards innovation.

In a speech at the UNSW Innovation Summit, Mr Meacock believed that businesses were not innovating systematically, instead choosing to focus too much on product and staff-led innovation rather than the business model approach.

Small biz boom

Among those arriving at the Prime Minister’s Christmas barbie with a present in his hands the other day was Michael McCormack . The Small Business Minister lobbed at the Lodge with a game called Pass the Bomb, which was to add to the pile under the tree for distribution to charity.

With a twinkle in his eye, McCormack explained that it was an appropriate choice. “I thought we were passed the bomb from Labor when we came in, so I could pass it on for a great cause.” Lest any of you thought it might somehow be related to McCormack’s celebrated role as census tsar. Or to Attorney-General George Brandis .

Xero completes massive, two-year transition to AWS

Accounting software provider Xero has completed a two-year transition of its entire platform to Amazon Web Services (AWS), with more than 59 billion records, 3000 apps and 120 databases transferred.

Xero says the transition marks one of the “largest data migrations into the AWS cloud infrastructure environment across Australia and New Zealand” which has taken just over two years to be architected and executed – and over that time it claims nearly half a million new customers were added.

In Mint Condition For Profit Breakthrough

“Fintech,” or financial technology, has been a smoking-hot space in the technology world in recent years, and the payments area has been where much of the heat has been generated. Mint Payments Limited (MNW) has been in the middle of that kitchen, developing its mobile payment technology platform.

From its start on the stock exchange – as Mint Wireless Limited – in August 2007, with a portable device and software system installed on mobile personal digital assistants (PDAs), Mint Payments (which changed to the current name in December 2104) has expanded its technology into an omni-channel platform that enables businesses to accept, see and reconcile payments – whether by credit card, debit card and EFTPOS – regardless of whether they have a bricks-and-mortar shop, an online store or if they run a mobile business.

MYOB business model under a cloud

One of my favourite pools of ideas is among companies with strong recurring revenue models that the market has written off and left for dead.

Enter desktop-centric accounting software stalwart MYOB, which many are quick to dismiss. The short version of the bear case is that the company is being disrupted by the wave of accountants and bookkeepers transitioning to the cloud.

SMBs using data, technology to manage their way through Xmas, says Xero

Australian small businesses are using data and technology to prepare for the Christmas rush “in ways they never could before”, according to cloud accounting provider Xero.

And, according to Xero , for many of Australia’s small business owners, this time of year sounds “alarm bells, rather than sleigh bells, with worries over seasonal surges or dips in cashflow”.

Start-up wunderkind takes on Über with HOP

Five years ago, Zeryab Cheema launched Taxi 24/7. The iPhone app, which has been embraced by the London Black Cab network, thrust Cheema into the media spotlight, with appearances on 7News, Today Show, ABC 7:30. On Wednesday (30 Nov), the Sydney entrepreneur launches his second venture, Über challenger HOP . It’s a bold move that’s especially impressive given Cheema’s age: he’s just 20 years old.

“Essentially a pivot from my first business, HOP is an on-demand ride-sharing platform that provides Hertz rental cars for use by drivers to pick-up passengers,” Cheema told Dynamic Business.

Ombudsman grills bank executives on SME lending: How to watch live

Small and medium businesses can today and tomorrow tune in to watch executives from Australia’s big banks answer questions about their track record when it comes to SME lending.

The federal government gave Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell the task of “forensically” examining how the big banks treat their small business customers in August.

Planned tax avoidance laws up for scrutiny

Companies wanting to express their views on the Turnbull government’s push to give the tax office more powers to counter multinational tax avoidance “should ensure that they don’t go on Christmas holidays early”.

Treasurer Scott MorrisonThe Hon. Scott Morrison, Federal Member for Cook Treasurer from 21.9.15 has released for public scrutiny until December 23 draft laws which will provide scope for the Australian Taxation Office to identify large multinationals seeking to avoid tax by shifting profits.

Rezdy is putting small travel and tourism business on the map

Australian travel technology company Rezdy is changing the game for small travel and tourism businesses, making them more competitive globally and changing the way the travel industry views the tour and activity sector.

The tours and attraction sector has been largely overlooked by travel technology players, who have focussed on flights, hotels, car rentals and home-rentals such as Airbnb. This is quickly changing with Rezdy’s marketplace technology connecting travel suppliers that specialise in travel tours and attractions with agents from all around the world.

Census 2016: inquiry achieves what it was meant to

The 112-page report into the failed 2016 census, tabled by the Senate Economics Reference Committee on Thursday, presumably brings to an end — for the year at least — the unedifying tale of how bureaucrats and tech firms bungled what should be an orderly count of the populace.

If anything, we knew much more about the census after it was bungled than before the exercise was launched. There were 90 submissions to the inquiry which resulted in this 112-page report , and together they provided a surfeit of fact and opinion into a process that few even noticed in previous years.

Ministers to be sent to ‘cyber bootcamp’ after damning review into #CensusFail

Government ministers and senior public servants will be sent to “cyber bootcamp”, while chief statistician David Kalisch will effectively be put on probation, following a damning review into the 2016 census debacle by the Prime Minister’s cyber security chief.

In an excoriating report, Alastair MacGibbon said the Australian Bureau of Statistics had failed to adequately prepare for predictable cyber security issues with the 2016 census, mishandled the subsequent crisis and has refused to take responsibility.

Tips, comments or suggestions? Let me know in the comments, send me an email or tweet me @simeonduncan.

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