News Pulse for September 5, 2017

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

Excessive payment surcharge ban now in effect; consumer advocate encourages no surcharges

All businesses across Australia are now banned from hitting customers with 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.

Anytime, Anywhere – Banking for all Australians: Open 24/7 – Finance and Banking – Australia

Open Banking represents a social, technological and ideological shift in banking and earlier this month the Commonwealth Government released an “Issues Paper” on its “Review into Open Banking in Australia” (the Review). Central to the idea of Open Banking is more seamless, efficient and cost effective access to a customer’s financial and transaction history, essentially by giving customers greater access to, and control over, their own banking data and allowing them to decide who may access that data.

In an Open Banking world, customers (at the centre of that world) should be better placed to make fully informed decisions about their financial futures, including by selecting financial service providers and financial products best suited to their needs.

Why Xero’s public cloud footprint spans AWS, Azure and Google

Most companies face a choice between Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google for their public cloud consumption. For Xero, the answer has been ‘all of the above’.

The New Zealand-born accounting software vendor made a widely publicised migration to AWS that completed last year. For Xero’s lean internal IT team this, paradoxically, necessitated a move to Azure.

Picking peer-to-peer platform provider

Disruption is not just happening to retail, hospitality and taxis. It’s also happening in financial services, especially banks, where borrowers and lenders are finding ways to engage, cutting traditional players out of the picture.

At best, in this scenario, both investors and borrowers can end up winning, with better lending rates and higher returns. This sector is worth investigating for investors comfortable with debt, but be prepared to do your homework.

ANZ today launches Voice ID for mobile banking 

From today, ANZ customers can now use voice authentication to complete mobile transactions of over $1000 through the GROW by ANZ app. The technology is a first for an Australian bank, following a successful pilot program back in April this year.

The technology will enable ANZ customers to make “Pay Anyone” payments on their mobile device without the need to log into their Internet banking or enter an additional pin. ANZ customers can also use Voice ID to make BPAY transactions of more than $10,000 safely and securely.

Turnbull gov’t backs consumers with increased penalties for businesses that breach law

The Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs has put consumers at the centre, with higher penalties for breaches of consumer law and necessary action on paper bills, retirement villages and ticket scalpAustralian Labor Party Small Business Minister Michael McCormack has confirmed that increased protections for consumers were discussed in Melbourne last week.

“As Australia’s Minister responsible for Consumer Affairs, I was delighted to join Consumer Affairs Ministers from the States, Territories and New Zealand to discuss increased protections for consumers against dodgy products and bad business behaviour,” McCormack said in a media release. He recognised that he and his colleagues must ensure that the safety and protection of consumers are maintained.

New franchise laws nearing vote as Labor wins protections

Employers who fail to keep wage records will be forced to prove they have not underpaid their workers, according to Labor changes to the Turnbull government’s new vulnerable workers laws.

The government’s potentially game-changing laws, which make franchisors liable for their franchisees’ underpayments and ramp up penalties for underpayments to more than half a million dollars, were on the verge of being voted up on Monday night after the Senate passed a raft of Labor amendments.

Open banking would improve access to finance for small business

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has welcomed government moves to reduce regulatory barriers to entry for new entrants to the banking system.

Treasury is consulting on proposed changes to the Banking Act, which would allow use of the word “bank” by authorised deposit-taking institutions.nn.

Enprise Group fast-tracks Aussie growth with stake in MYOB reseller

Enprise Group has acquired a 47 per cent equity stake in Kilimanjaro Consulting for $3.2 million (AU$2.9 million), as the New Zealand-based business accelerates regional growth plans.

Based in Sydney, Kilimanjaro Consulting is one of Australia’s largest MYOB enterprise resellers, specialising in consultancy and implantation services.

Why go-getters are standing still

Economic uncertainty, skill shortages, red tape and rising energy costs are discouraging small business in Australia from expanding, according to National Australia Bank’s chief customer officer for business and private banking, ­Angela Mentis.

“Worry about economic uncertainty is having a material impact of the growth of the small business sector by discouraging them from expanding,” she said in an interview with The Australian. “It’s a confidence issue.

Labor’s trust tax policy still an attack on small business

In last week’s column, I speculated on how the Labor Party’s taxation of family discretionary trusts tax policy would work. I hypothesised what the amount of tax payable would be by beneficiaries of a family trust if the tax was levied on the trust and in addition levied on the income distributed to the beneficiaries.

This prompted the office of the shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, to forward a copy of the policy. Although the proposed tax will not be levied on a family trust’s net income, it, however, involves a new flat rate of tax payable by adult beneficiaries of family trusts.

Inability amongst Aussie SMEs to access credit ‘deepens’ economic downturns, slows recovery

The growth of SMEs is being significantly restricted by their inability to access credit readily, according to the results of a survey commissioned by fintech lender GetCapital.

The Small Business Credit survey was completed by 611 SMEs, defined as businesses with between 5 and 250 FTE and an average minimum revenue between $50,001 and $250,000. It revealed that more than 60% of those who applied for credit last year ‘did not receive what they were looking for’.

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