News Pulse for October 17, 2017

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

CSIRO’s ON to accelerate Australia through innovation rankings

The leader of Australia’s national science and technology accelerator, Steve Brodie, is confident the program can catapult the country’s global ranking in innovation “outputs” by instilling a new approach to research in the tertiary education sector, born from Silicon Valley’s lean start-up methodology.

In March, the OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Economic Survey of Australia found the country once again ranked high globally when it came to knowledge creation, but was in the middle of the pack when it came to “outputs”.

‘We are kidding ourselves’

Parliament is being urged to back the next big round of company tax cuts in the name of adding $17 billion a year to economic growth, as employers warn that Australia must keep up with other countries slashing the burden on business.

Days away from a vote on the tax plan, the Business Council of Australia has moved to shore up support for the reform as a way to boost investment and increase real wages for workers.

Small business groups sound urgent warning as ACCC report shows rising power prices place “unacceptable pressure” on customers

The consumer watchdog has warned SMEs are facing confusing energy contracts and skyrocketing prices, with small business leaders observing that electricity bills could cause significant problems for the viability of companies amid other cost pressures.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s preliminary report into Australia’s energy market has found higher network costs have led to small businesses and consumers being put under “unacceptable pressure” when it comes to paying their power bills.

The businesses reinventing themselves for a cashless society

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s consumer payments survey, cash is no longer king at the checkout.

The RBAReserve Bank of Australia www.rba.gov.au reports consumers are using cards more frequently, with the share of cash transactions dropping to 37% of payments last year, down from 69% in 2007.

Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell calls for prompt payment of government subbies

Stating that small business subcontractors are vulnerable to delayed payments, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell has announced she is examining payment terms and conditions for “subbies” working on government projects.

“Most government departments pay their invoices within 30 days, but when a prime contractor is appointed to manage a project there are regularly delayed payments further down the chain,” she said.

The $20,000 instant asset tax write-off has been used by 300,000 SMEs, says Federal Government

Nearly 300,000 small businesses have taken advantage of the Federal Government’s $20,000 instant asset tax write-off scheme, according to 2015-16 tax office data.

The data was revealed by Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack, who described the instant asset write-off program as a “shot in the arm” for small businesses.

Australia Post appoints new CEO

Australia Post’s parcel service has been thrown into chaos after the shipping and tracking service failed on Monday.

Small business customers were met with an error message when trying to log into the eParcel service on Monday as the nationwide fault brought warehouse staff and small business owners to a complete standstill.

Digital engagement on the rise for Aussie SMBs: survey

Digital engagement remains a real opportunity, and real marketplace differentiator for the small business sector, according to a new report done for Google. It shows that in just 12 months SMB adoption of digital tools has grown significantly.

According to professional services firm Deloitte Access Economics, which wrote the Connected Small Businesses 2017 report for Google, 12% of businesses are moving up the digital “ladder” and no longer have just “basicAustralian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator. asic.gov.au” levels of digital engagement.

BCA ramps tax change effort

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) has wasted no time putting corporate tax cuts back on the minds of politicians as they return to parliament this week, claiming that Australian businesses are at risk of being left behind if the issue of lowering the current company tax rate of 30 per cent remains unaddressed.

Skills policy is a top constraint

When the ASX-listed accounting giant MYOB set out its formal business plan for 2017, chief executive Tim Reed says the company identified access to skills as the single biggest risk to meeting its goals.

And that risk was identified before the complexity and confusion of the surprise changes to the 457 temporary visa program was thrown in to the mix.

Gandel-backed retail marketplace MyDeal partners with business lender Prospa

Melbourne-based online retail marketplace MyDeal.com.au is partnering with fintech start-up Prospa, allowing retailers on its platform to apply for loans of up to $250,000.

The partnership comes six months after it raised $5 million from Tony Gandel, the son of billionaire property developer and rich lister John Gandel.

InfoTrack enters credit bureau game with acquisition of fintech startup CreditorWatch

Rapid-growth SME credit bureau CreditorWatch has been acquired by InfoTrack, a leading provider of intelligent search and automated workflow solutions for business professionals.

Founded by managing director Colin Porter in 2011, CreditorWatch has, in the ensuing six years, been able to challenge the duopoly held by incumbent credit bureaus Veda (now Equifax) and Dun & Bradstreet and grow a user-base of more than 50,000 clients.

Here’s fintech’s secret pitch to the RBA to create an Australian dollar cryptocurrency

A group of fintech startups have submitted cases to the Reserve Bank of Australia and the federal Treasury to demonstrate the need for a new government-endorsed Australian dollar cryptocurrency.

Business Insider can reveal three fintechs, through industry body FinTech Australia and the government’s Fintech Advisory Group, presented use-cases for a new Digital Australian Dollar – the DAD – which would be pegged to the physical Australian dollar and compete against the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum.

It’s estimated some 2200 jobs will be lost to rising electricity prices

ELECTRICITY users today are being told to get tough with power companies deliberately over complicating contracts which are pushing up electricity prices faster than inflation and wages.

The strategies are contained in a preliminary report on retail electricity pricing produced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCCAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission The ACCC is Australia's competition regulator and national consumer law champion.).

Rising energy costs curtailing SME growth; Ombudsman blames price gouging, politics

Research showing that SMEs are reducing capital expenditure due to rising energy prices has prompted criticism of the state governments by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, pointed to the latest East & Partners SME survey* of 1280 businesses, which showed that 39.5% of SMES plan to scale back short-term capital expenditure due to higher energy prices, while 20.8% will scale back capital expenditure in the long-term, and a further 9.9% will reduce capital expenditure in the short and long-term.

Non-banks swing towards public favour

With greater numbers of borrowers seeking out mortgages and other products from non-banks, it’s clear that the public now sees alternative lenders in a more positive light.

Thanks to the vast array of information on the internet, consumers are more educated and more open to ‘challenger’ brands, Homeloans general manager of third party distribution Daniel Carde told Australian Broker .

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

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