Pulse Alert – News Pulse for June 13, 2019

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

Is 2019 still the year of the neobank?

In January this year, neobank Volt became the first Australian challenger to receive its full authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) licence from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), marking the beginning of what was hailed as the year of the neobank.

In the months that followed, Xinja broke its own equity crowdfunding record, raising $2.6 million — although it’s still waiting on its own ADI licence — and small-business lender Judo Capital was granted its ADI licence, before re-branded to Judo Bank.

Government’s $2 billion SME finance fund critiqued by Productivity Commission 

The Productivity Commission has taken a swipe at the federal government’s $2 billion investment in SME financing, warning taxpayer intervention risks benefitting small business at the expense of public interest.

Nestled within a review of industry assistance policies released on Wednesday, the commission said it has identified a move towards “large scale project finance facilities”, singling out the Coalition’s Business Securitisation Fund.

Neobank unicorn Revolut launches in Australia

London-based neobanking unicorn Revolut will start switching on its digital wallet from Thursday for Australian customers, an indication the fight to win young, digital-savvy customers from the major banks has gone global.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has allowed Revolut, which is valued at $US1.7 billion ($2.4 billion) and is one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Europe, to use its European “electronic money licence” (EMI) to support its beta launch in Australia.

Ireland’s Priviti and Aussie fintech Accurassi partner for Open Banking

As Australia prepares for Open Banking and its equivalent of the GDPR – the Consumer Data Right – Priviti, a global fintech and regtech company with offices in Ireland, London, Singapore and Sydney, has announced a partnership agreement with Australian fintech company Accurassi.

The announcement comes at Money20/20 Europe, where Priviti has joined an Enterprise Ireland fintech trade delegation. Founded in 2002, Accurassi provides data services to the energy market, financial services and state governments. Its proprietary platform enables personalised comparisons of energy providers using data from consumers’ utility bills.

Vic govt flags LaunchVic pivot

The Victorian government will continue funding its startup agency LaunchVic beyond next year, but a review into its future focus is underway, state Innovation Minister Martin Pakula said.

Addressing a Public Accounts and Estimates hearing on Tuesday, Mr Pakula was questioned over why LaunchVic was only allocated $10 million in 2019-20 in last month’s Victorian budget, with no guaranteed ongoing funding.

Melbourne Chosen As Launch City For Uber Air

Melbourne will join Dallas and Los Angeles as one of the launch cities for the aerial ridesharing service Uber Air, the first city chosen outside the United States to trial the service.

Uber Elevate, the division of Uber developing the ambitious ridesharing mode, plans to begin demonstrator flights in late 2020 and ahead of launching commercial flights in 2023.

ATO movement sparks audit, reviews concern

Speaking to Accountants Daily, RMS senior manager Tracey Dunn said recent Tax Office activity and the introduction of new regulatory measures point towards a spike in enforcement activity over the next few months.

Earlier this year, the government announced a fresh $1 billion funding boost to the ATO Australian Taxation Office to extend the operation of the Tax Avoidance Taskforce and to expand the Taskforce’s programs and market coverage.

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