News Pulse for October 9, 2017

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

Spike in Airbnb listings leaves hotels in the west crying foul

A massive increase in people leasing private accommodation in Western Australia over the past 12 months has sparked criticism from the hotel sector, which says it is not competing on a level playing field.

A report by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre shows listings on the Airbnb website have jumped by 50 per cent in the past year to more than 8,000.

NAB to pioneer data-sharing

National Australia Bank will be the first major bank to share positive and negative credit information about its customers with credit bureaus, saying it will start to roll out comprehensive credit reporting by next February.

NAB’s move, which will increase the amount of information held by companies like Veda, including credit limits and loan repayment histories, will intensify pressure on rivals to accelerate their own CCR plans, ahead of Wednesday’s third grilling of the major-bank chief executives by the David Coleman-chaired parliamentary economics committee.

Cash no longer king in Australia

Major banks want to charge fintech businesses in exchange for handing over data on the banks’ customers, a sign of the likely tensions to emerge as the government looks to break open the banks’ information vaults.

In a move that could have far-reaching implications for banks and their customers alike, Treasurer Scott MorrisonThe Hon. Scott Morrison, Federal Member for Cook Treasurer from 21.9.15 earlier this year ordered an investigation into “open banking”, a system that would allow customers to securely share their financial data with rivals.

Brisbane insurance startup ROOBYX expands into London to protect gig economy workers

Brisbane-founded insurance startup ROOBYX will open its first international office in London as it looks to capitalise on the UK’s one-million strong gig economy workforce.

ROOBYX currently offers gig economy workers across Australia the option to insure between 25-85% of their income, as well as offering permanent disability and death coverage of up to $500,000. It will be launching these services in the UK in December this year.

Credit complaints atop of surging Financial Ombudsman disputes list

The total number of complaints jumped by a sizeable 16% from the previous year to just shy of 40,000, with the Financial Ombudsman website visited a record 675,000 times.

The surge in complaints also meant that 235,000 phone calls were taken throughout the year, an increase of 10% which forced the regulatory body to take on more staff.

Major bank overhauls business loan contracts

One of Australia’s major banks has undertaken a “complete overhaul” of its business standard loan contract, claiming the move will benefit more than 130,000 SME owners.

The simpler contracts utilise plain English, transparent fees and upfront charges, simpler contractual clauses, and are shorter in length.

Open banking ‘carries cost risk’

Commonwealth Bank has called on the government to carefully consider design issues associated with the proposed introduction of an open banking regime after significant cost blowouts in a similar exercise in Britain.

In its submission to the Treasury’s review of open banking, CBA says the cost of implementing open banking and associated payments reforms for some British banks were a high as £300 million ($505m), while the average figure was £150m-£200m.

Palaszczuk Government grants and programs drive small business growth

The PalaszczukThe Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk (pr. Pal-a-shay), Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Arts from 16.2.2015 Government is delivering on its commitment to grow the state’s small business sector and create jobs, allocating more than $4 million in grants to over 700 operators since June last year.

Small Business Minister Leeanne Enoch said today (Saturday) the grants are being provided under the government’s $22.7 million Advancing Small Business Queensland Strategy.

RC ‘to mean over-regulation’

A royal commission into the banking sector in Australia would only lead to excessive regulation, the former chairman of investment bank Lazard International, Ken Costa, has warned.

“Governments worldwide are trying to make sure that the global financial crisis doesn’t happen again,” the London-based former vice-chairman of UBS International said during a visit to Australia last week.

Hair and Beauty employer group backs penalty rates for workers

Hairdressers have found an unlikely ally in a fight against an employer group trying to cut penalty rates in their industry – an employer group.

Hair and Beauty Australia has begun a push to reduce Sunday and public holiday rates through the same Fair Work Commission (FWC) process that saw penalties reduced in the hospitality, fast food, pharmacy and retail sectors earlier this year.

FinTechs warn Google, Apple could pinch revenue without action on open banking

The government’s “open banking” regime, which will create a framework for customers to share data held by their bank with competitors, should be established quickly to avoid incumbents and start-ups losing revenue to global digital giants like Google and Apple, and Australian tax revenue and skilled labour being lost offshore.

That is a key argument made by FinTech Australia in a submission to the open banking inquiry, which will report to Treasurer Scott MorrisonThe Hon. Scott Morrison, Federal Member for Cook Treasurer from 21.9.15 by the end of the year. The industry group argues global technology players have substantial reach to customers via their existing communication channels, and their vast capital makes it easy for them to obtain alternative sources of data and to invest in testing and deploying financial services to millions of customers at a very low relative cost.

Minority shareholder places mortgage fintech into administration

Parties associated with a minority shareholder of online mortgage platform LoanFlare have put the company into administration.

The Sydney-based start-up, founded by David Kim and Joshua Shen, was initially built to empower consumers to self-service their home loans by having access to the same loan products and technology used by brokers.

What could possibly go wrong?

COAG met yesterday, the Prime Minister and the premiers of the states and chief ministers of the territories with Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman, only allowed in after facial recognition technology was used as no one really knew what he looked like.

When the day came to an end, they all stood around backslapping for the cameras having agreed to everything the Prime Minister had placed on the agenda, including the creation of a national database of drivers’ licence photographs from across the country to give some muscle to photo recognition technology and continue the creeping sense of state surveillance on the citizenry.

More agencies spying on our data

GOVERNMENT agencies responsible for everything from fisheries to first homeowner’s grants are trolling through suspected criminals’ internet and phone records at an unprecedented level.

For the first time, the Sunday Mail can reveal how SA police and numerous government agencies have used the highly valued but controversial tool to investigate crimes as ­diverse as murder, sexual assault, payroll fraud and unlicensed fishing.

ATO promises to keep hardware and software up-to-date

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO Australian Taxation Office) has revealed some details of its IT Systems Improvement Program, which is set to strengthen the core IT platforms and improve resilience.

The four-year program was revealed in a submission to the digital delivery of government services inquiry , which comes on the back of Labor’s push for the Senate to look into the current government’s digital transformation blunders, such as the Census failure and repeated ATO Australian Taxation Office website crashes.

R&D fraudsters in the government’s sights | The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

The recent successful prosecution against Melbourne tax agent Arjuna Samarakoon for defrauding the Australian Government highlights the Turnbull Government’s commitment to ensuring the Research and Development (R&D) tax incentive supports only honest taxpayers.

Mr Samarkoon was charged with money laundering offences after transferring $380,000 from company accounts to his own personal account, and has been sentenced to 29 months’ imprisonment.

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