News Pulse for February 7, 2017

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

Jack Ma pledges to support small businesses as Alibaba opens first Australian headquarters

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has pledged to support Australian and New Zealand SMEs with the opening of its Melbourne headquarters.

The offices opened on Saturday with founder and executive chairman Jack Ma revealing Alibaba’s operations across ANZ will continue to be headed up by Maggie Zhou.

Private equity missing the buzz

Australian private equity firms need to get out of their comfort zone and get stuck into the emergent technology sector as software starts to redefine the services that customers want and how business deliver them, according to Potentia managing director Andrew Gray.

The former managing director of Archer Capital, who has positioned Potentia as a venture ­focused on technology firms, says there is plenty of opportunity for those willing to dip their feet in the market, and not just in the rampant start-up scene.

Small business loans inquiry report puts blame on the banks

The report made 15 key recommendations, 11 of which are directed at the banking industry. The Turnbull Government has released its recommendations following the small business loans inquiry, commissioned by the Government in August 2016. This is not the first time the small business lending market has come under scrutiny, with 17 inquiries and reviews held since the GFC and 40 recommendations made to improve the sector. However, according to the Government, the “banking industry has taken little action”.

Gov’t reinforces ‘one stop shop’ for SME loan disputes

he release of a new report on small business lending by the major banks has prompted the government to push for expanded external dispute resolution (EDR) options for customers.

Released today, the Inquiry into Small Business Loans (also known as the Carnell report) recommended that banks enhance small business access to EDR through a “one-stop shop” with a dedicated small business unit. This unit will have the expertise to consider disputes involving loans of up to $5 million.

Australia’s small businesses are frozen by economic uncertainty

Sentiment among Australia’s small and medium businesses is in neutral, dampened by worries about the economy.

A new quarterly survey, the Bankwest Future of Business 2017 Outlook Report, gauges expectations among small to medium businesses for their overall prospects, health, performance and the economy to establish.

Banks on notice over unfair contracts

Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell has again put banks on notice, this time over their “unimpressive” response to a new ban on unfair contract terms.

Ms Carnell, in partnership with regulators, is on the lookout for a legal test case to demonstrate that it is unlawful for big businesses to use their size to bully smaller enterprises into unfavourable deals.

Tyro says banks holding back SMBs, economy

Independent EFTPOS institution Tyro Payments claims Australian banks are holding back business and the economy because they won’t grant loans to small and medium-sized businesses unless owners put up their houses as collateral.

Australia has something in the region of two million SMBs and Tyro executive director Jost Stollman said large banks typically insisted that owners of small businesses put up their family homes as collateral rather than rely on the business’s positive cash flow.

SMEs call for review of ATO’s reliance on online services as dropouts saga continues

Accountants and business groups are calling for a broader review into the continued outages at the Australian Taxation Office, amid heavy criticism of the ATO Australian Taxation Office’s reliance on unreliable online systems to file important tax information.

Tax office services are only just coming back online this morning after another unscheduled outage at the end of last week, marking close to two months of significant disruptions after systems were wiped out in December 2016.

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