News Pulse for November 15, 2017

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

Why Westpac is holding off on AI

Westpac is taking a backseat to adopting artificial intelligence technologies in its environment while it works on rebuilding its IT foundations.

The bank is in the midst of a handful of significant transformation initiatives that are intended to bring the organisation up to speed with the demands of banking customers.

Westpac testing AI to monitor staff and customers

Westpac Banking Corp is trialling artificial intelligence-powered video cameras to read the mood of staff and tell managers if a pep-up is needed.

It’s also investigating how artificial intelligence can improve the bank’s assessment of whether mortgage customers can repay loans, by tapping a broader range of financial data to be opened up by the government’s “open banking” reforms.

One in two small businesses relying on new protections against unfair contract terms

A survey of 1280 SME operators has found that nearly half (49.6%) had relied on unfair contract terms legislation, implemented last year, to negotiate fairer terms with big businesses during the past six months.

Conducted by East & Partners, the SME Transaction Banking survey also showed that nearly four in five respondents (78.2%) were aware of protections arising from the unfair contract term provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 being extended to cover standard form small business contracts a year ago.

Thriving in the age of Amazon

In the lead-up to the Christmas period, the highly anticipated launch of US retail giant Amazon in Australia has many business owners on edge. Known globally for competitive pricing and swift product delivery, Amazon sets a high bar for local retailers, particularly small business owners, to compete with. However, for those open to innovation, the launch of Amazon presents an opportunity.

The Australian eCommerce industry has grown significantly over the last few years, recording more than $23 billion in annual sales in the last year alone. The arrival of Amazon in Australia signals a new era for the market, with the $US50 billion ($62 billion) retail giant expected to bring even more attention and investment to the space and build consumer confidence in online. For Australian small businesses and online retailers the increase in attention over the Christmas period and beyond will offer the opportunity to increase their reach both nationally and on a global scale.

Threats to online freedom

Excessive penalties for online defamation and insufficient metadata protection laws are the biggest threats to internet freedom in Australia, says a new report released exclusively to The Australian.

Freedom House’s annual Freedom on The Net Australia 2017 report name found that while Australians enjoy a comparatively high amount of freedom online, hefty defamation penalties are causing individuals to self censor. The issue is further complicated by varying state and territory defamation laws. from passing.

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