News Pulse for September 1, 2017

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

Don’t expect the Grameen Bank’s microfinance model to pay off for Australians

The Grameen Bank, a pioneer in lending to the financially vulnerable in the developing world, is partnering a community bank in rural New South Wales. Grameen Bank specialises in giving small loans , also called microfinance, to people who use it to pay for things such as a new roof or to small businesses, to buy stock for example.

But to be legally allowed to access capital markets, and accept and lend out customer savings, microfinance providers like Grameen Bank have to follow the same regulations as large financial institutions. These conditions are too hard for many microfinance providers to meet, so the sector relies on donations and grants for funding. This is unsustainable.

Banks use regulation to stifle competition: Treasurer

Treasurer Scott MorrisonThe Hon. Scott Morrison, Federal Member for Cook Treasurer from 21.9.15 says banking regulation can be used by incumbents to limit competition and the government wants to “recalibrate” settings in order to empower customers and increase competitive tension in the sector.

“Complexity and inertia in highly regulated markets is business’ profits best friend, and often the consumer’s worst nightmare,” Mr Morrison said at a Bloomberg event on Thursday.

Consumer safety, protection a central focus | The Hon Michael McCormack MP

ACTIONS to protect consumers and increase safety are top of the Federal Government’s agenda at the Consumer Affairs Ministers’ meeting this week, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack says.

“As Australia’s Minister with responsibility for consumer affairs, my most important job is to ensure the safety of Australians and, where required, to take the necessary action to protect people,” Mr McCormack said.

Excessive payment surcharge ban

From tomorrow, every business across Australia will be banned from charging customers excessive surcharges for using certain types of EFTPOS, Mastercard, Visa and American Express cards to make payments.

The excessive surcharging ban has applied to large businesses since September last year and now extends to all businesses that are either based in Australia or use an Australian bank. The ban does not affect businesses that choose not to apply a surcharge to payments.

‘From one business owner to another’: boutique launches SME platform

A boutique law firm has revealed it will deliver a new platform designed specifically for SME clients in an attempt to clear up some of the confusing legalese plaguing this portion of the market.

Progressive Legal will roll out a new platform, dubbed Law in a Box, on Friday, 1 September 2017.

The platform seeks to provide Australian business owners with current and relevant legal information across a range of areas, including business structures, intellectual property protection, commercial law matters, workplace matters, defamation, and dispute resolution matters.

Turnbull says energy deal a win for small business … Harvey Norman profit jumps 29% … ACCC rolls out excessive surcharge ban

Energy retailers are set to write letters to close to 2 million customers by Christmas with information about how to compare energy plans by using the government’s energy comparison website.

Prime Minister Malcolm TurnbullThe Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Federal Member for Wentworth Prime Minister from 15.9.15 told reporters after a meeting with energy retailers on Wednesday that the commitment to increase the number of households that will be contacted about price comparisons, from 1 million to 2 million, is a win for households and small businesses, reports AAP.

Cash no longer king in Australia

Small business owners risk being fined thousands of dollars if they are caught slapping excessive surcharges on credit card and debit card payments from this Friday.

A ban on excessive surcharging will be extended to include all businesses from the start of September, and this may force a re-think by small retailers that charge flat fees for customers who make small payments by card.

QuickBooks racks up 100,000 Australian customers

Intuit is the latest cloud accounting provider to report strong growth.

Building on an already-impressive 61 percent growth in 2015-16, Intuit Australia put on an 89 percent spurt to July 2017 that took its number of QuickBooks subscribers over the 100,000 mark.

Delay on penalty rate trade-off

Proposals allowing small businesses to trade penalty rates and overtime for higher base pay are unlikely to be trialled for another 12 months, two years after the plan was floated.

The Fair Work Commission is expected to wait for the results of further penalty rate proceedings before deliberating on the proposal to allow retail and fast-food small businesses to trade off con­ditions without the need for an ­enterprise agreement.

ATO to get stronger powers to crack down on unpaid superannuation: Here’s what it means for your business

The federal government plans to hand the Australian Taxation Office additional funding to catch out employers who fail to pay their staff correct superannuation amounts, after reports from a range of agencies suggested the vast majority of non-payments come from small business owners.

On Tuesday, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer said a new package of legislation, which includes requirements for super funds to report data to the ATO Australian Taxation Office more frequently and gives the tax office greater powers in issuing director penalty notices, will stop employers from hiding from their “legal duty”.

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