News Pulse for December 6, 2016

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

How criminals are scamming Airbnb users out of their holiday cash

The holiday season is around the corner, and cut-price accommodation deals on websites such as Airbnb that offer live-like-a-local experiences may look attractive.

But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning holidaymakers to watch out for fraudsters who are increasingly luring victims through deals on sharing economy platforms and scamming them out of thousands of dollars.

Dodgy bosses rorting $3.6 billion

NEARLY one in three workers are being dudded an average of $1500 a year by employers failing to pay compulsory superannuation, a new report claims.

Under the law, employers must contribute 9.5 per cent into the superannuation account of every worker over the age of 18 and earning more than $450 a month.

Employers fail to pay billions in compulsory super every year, report shows

Australian employers are failing to pay billions of dollars in compulsory super contributions to their employees, according to a new report.

A former Treasury official has sounded the alarm, warning his conservative estimates showed workers were underpaid at least $3.6bn in a single year.

Unpaid super tally hits $3.6 billion: Are you paying your employees’ superannuation correctly?

Businesses should review their obligations for compulsory superannuation contributions or potentially suffer the consequences, say experts, as a spotlight is shone on the $3.6 billion of unpaid super across the nation.

On its last sitting day on Thursday, the Senate referred the non-payment of superannuation guarantee contributions by Australian employers to the economics references committee for review in 2017. Superannuation groups have been busy modelling the scale of these non-payments, with a report from Industry Super Australia (ISA) and industry super fund Cbus released over the weekend pinning the value of unpaid super at $3.6 billion in 2013-14.

CSIRO to launch $200 million innovation fund for ambitious startups, SMEs and scientists

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has unveiled a $200 million innovation fund for startups, SMEs and scientists, which will open in 2017.

The CSIRO Innovation Fund, to be led by Blackbird Ventures co-founder Bill Bartee, aims to commercialise early stage “innovations” being developed at universities, the CSIRO and other publicly funded institutions.

NSW opens doors to tech SMEs

The NSW Government has launched a raft of new engagement plans and procurement models as the central components of its just-released NSW Innovation Strategy.

The new initiative includes the creation of a new ‘Innovation Concierge Service’ to make it easier for companies and individual innovators to approach government with ideas and pitches.

Imbalance in spending on pro-business policies

When Andrew Bragg was employed by the Menzies Research Centre to develop an enterprise policy agenda his first task was to work out what he was up against.

He started by adding up the amounts of money being spent each year by organisations with an “anti-business” agenda. He wanted to compare it to the amount spent by those in favour of business.

Small business blames funds

A convoluted payments system foisted onto small businesses by big industry super funds is part of the reason more than 2 million Australian have been short-changed more than $3.6 billion.

The Council of Small Business Australia has hit back at a study funded by Industry Super Australia which blamed small businesses as part of the cause of employees being cheated of super payments.

Sydney Angels launches second $10-20 million startup co-investment fund raising round

Australia’s largest network of start-up angel investors, The Sydney Angels, has kicked off a capital raising in a bid to launch its second fund of up to $20 million.

The funds will form the second of the network’s so-called Sidecar funds, as it has fully deployed the capital in its first fund. It expects to lock in an initial $10 million tranche by February.

ParlInfo – Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue : 30/11/2016 : Australian Taxation Office annual report 2015-16

I declare open the second public hearing for the inquiry into the 2015-16 annual report of the Australian Taxation Office. The hearing today provides the opportunity to examine the key administrators and monitors of Australia’s taxation system: the Commissioner of Taxation and his deputy commissioners, and the Inspector-General of Taxation and his deputy. The committee will start proceedings with Australia’s peak body for small business, the Council of Small Business Australia. We look forward to this opportunity to hear how small business experienced the 2016 tax time and whether the ATO Australian Taxation Office’s reinvention program is delivering the promised benefits in time and cost efficiencies to Australia’s largest employing sector.

Sydney duo launch shareconomy app, Share with Oscar, to take the pain out of parking

Fed up with the soul-destroying (and oft-times fruitless) exercise of finding parking near Sydney’s busiest beaches, two enterprising locals have launched an on-demand, peer-to-peer parking app, with the aim being to strike a balance between supply and demand.

Startup founders say crowdfunding delays are an ‘extreme embarrassment’

Startup founders have hit out at the Labor Party for its refusal to support the passage of a long-awaited crowd sourced equity funding (CSEF) bill, resulting in the legislation being pushed back until February at the earliest.

The move from Labor, which was led by digital economy spokesman Ed Husic, comes a week after the bill was introduced to Parliament for a second time , having already been knocked back in December 2015.

Aussie VR start-up Zero Latency raises $7 million to take its zombies global

Melbourne-based Zero Latency, which has developed a unique way to allow groups of friends to roam freely together in virtual reality, has closed a $7 million funding round aimed at helping it capitalise on rave reviews internationally.

With launch of ‘Uber AI Labs,’ ride-sharing giant aims to expand AI research beyond autonomous cars

Ride-sharing giant Uber just unveiled an “AI lab,” acquiring the New York startup Geometric Intelligence (GI) to “advance machine learning,” it announced on Monday. The AI lab team, led by GI’s cofounder Gary Marcus, will include 15 researchers—from New York University, Stanford, Cornell, and other universities—who will bring a “multidisciplinary approach” to Uber’s AI development, drawing from science and AI backgrounds, according to Uber.

Xero expands partner programme, advisory directory

Accounting software provider Xero has launched its expanded Partner Programme and Advisory Directory powered by a Facebook Messenger chatbot service, connecting its claimed global network of more than 100,000 business advisers with even more small businesses.

Xero HQ’s Facebook Messenger chatbot goes live

Just a week after launching its My Xero replacement, the cloud accounting provider has already added a range additional functions.

Xero has flicked the switch on a range of extra features on its recently launched Xero HQ platform, including a Siri-style artificial intelligence chatbot for Facebook Messenger and an upgraded directory of accounting practices.

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