News Pulse for December 30, 2016

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

Small Business Champion appointed in Queensland first

QLD Small Business Minister Leeanne Enoch has announced Queensland businesswoman and open data advocate Maree Adshead as Queensland’s first Small Business Champion. Minister Enoch said Ms Adshead’s appointment would provide the state’s small business sector with another strong advocate and return Queensland’s input to the national small business policy table.
Maree is the founding CEO of the Open Data Institute Queensland (ODI Queensland). The ODI’s mission is to connect, equip and inspire people around the world to innovate with data. ODI Queensland, now completing its second year, is already recognised not just within Queensland, but nationally and internationally, as a leader in bringing business, industry, academia and government together to utilise government data as a strategic resource.
Maree’s career began in the legal profession, as partner of a tier one national law firm. 10 years later, Maree co-founded a software start-up which achieved great success and which was the recipient of multiple awards for excellence in innovation.
Maree is one of the six civil society representatives on the interim working group which is co-designing Australia’s first National Open Government Action Plan. She is also a member of a number of public sector open data advisory groups. Past industry representative roles include past Chair of the Technology Council of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) and past Chair of the Queensland branch of the Australian Information Industry Association Queensland (AIIA).

Robo advice start-up Six Park closes $1.5m capital raise

A Melbourne-based robo-adviser has closed a $1.5 million capital raise from a powerful group of investors that includes a former finance minister and an ex- Deutsche Bank ANZ exec chairman. This is the second round of funding for DIY investment platform Six Park, which has now raised a total of $2.9 million to help it in its quest to deliver transparent advice to Australians, while also undercutting banks and the financial planning industry with lower fees. Ex-chairman of M&A for Deutsche Bank ANZ Michael Roche has become a new investor in Six Park and former federal finance minister Lindsay Tanner, who was already on the company’s advisory board, has now invested funds in what is a vote of confidence for the firm.

OnDeck’s Poolman: online lenders battle high costs, small scale

The growing horde of fintech companies need to lower the cost of acquiring customers to become profitable or they will come under greater pressure to consolidate, according to one of the nation’s online small-business lenders. “These are expensive businesses to run,” Cameron Poolman, the chief executive of OnDeck, told The Australian a little more than a year after launching. “The economics are different (to banks). You’ve got a higher cost per acquisition, or you’ve got origination fees from a broker or partner, you’ve got the cost of capital, loss rates and administration costs. “That’s why you actually need to build scale to make these things profitable. Our focus is to get to scale.” The small-business lending market has attracted several fintechs aiming to profit from customer dissatisfaction with banks, which historically required property for security and didn’t always prioritise “micro” companies seeking small amounts of cash quickly. Bigstone, a “peer-to-peer” small business lender, this year joined OnDeck, Spotcap, GetCapital, Capify, Prospa, ThinCats, Moula and Kikka Capital in the increasingly competitive market.

Fintechs fill the gap for SMEs neglected by the big four banks

Here is a prediction for 2017 you can bank on: after a decade of near oligarchy, the journey to a more competitive market in Australia’s banking sector will begin in earnest. Not before time. The competition will come primarily from fintechs, which will use new technologies to disrupt personal banking and payments in a way we have never seen before, especially in a banking sector that can best be described as the most highly protected of any developed economy.

Australian tech start-ups face trust deficit: Nitro research

Australia’s big businesses are keen to buy from local technology companies but are alarmingly hesitant to buy from start-ups. A survey of 300 local business leaders found just 6 per cent of them indicated they “trust and support start-ups over longstanding brands”, while no business leader over 55 said they’d trust and support a start-up over a longstanding brand. The research was commissioned by local document software firm Nitro.

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