Pulse Alert – News Pulse for August 14, 2019

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

SMEs seek non-bank loans: PayPal

Small and medium sized businesses are increasingly turning to alternative lending, with 42 per cent saying they have used a non-bank and 39 per cent saying they would more likely to consider a non-bank for a loan in the future.

New research released by PayPal has found that three-quarters of SMBs view securing a traditional loan as having become more difficult than it used to be, while two thirds think getting approved for a business loan is increasingly becoming a barrier to doing business.

Australians haven’t fully embraced Digital-Only banks, but open banking could change that:

Across APAC consumers increasingly prefer digital channels for financial services. The trend, combined with regulatory changes that lower barriers to entry, is helping digital-only banks overcome incumbents’ traditional trust and scale advantages, according to new research from Forrester.

But in Australia, the research shows the pace of switching to digital-only banks is considerably slower, despite a similar preference for digital channels and a growing cohort of digital only banks marketing themselves on digital experience . Forrester analysts argue, however, open banking should bring Australia closer to the regional rate.

Banks pop open champers, while borrowers drink from cask after loan win

There was a lot riding on the outcome of Justice Nye Perram’s decision in the case brought by the corporate regulator against Westpac on whether it breached responsible lending laws – and it won’t be only Westpac breaking out the caviar and fine shiraz.

At the heart of this case was a battle between a lender’s discretion to decide the suitability of a loan and a regulator’s ability to impose prescriptive formulae on how a loan’s suitability should be assessed.

“WorkChoices 2.0”: Furor as Coalition backbenchers call for SME unfair dismissal exemption

The federal opposition has accused the Morrison government of trying to “resurrect” WorkChoices as a political fight brews over the future of Australia’s workplace laws.

Opposition Industrial Relations Spokesperson Tony Burke has called on Prime Minister Scott MorrisonThe Hon. Scott Morrison, Federal Member for Cook Treasurer from 21.9.15 to rule out changes which would “make it easier for bosses to sack people” after reports emerged Coalition backbenchers are pushing to exempt SMEs from unfair dismissal laws.

Moula: Proposed tax reform likely to push businesses away from ‘Bank of ATO’

Australian businesses that fail to cooperate with the Australian Tax Office (ATO Australian Taxation Office) in paying back substantial tax debt could have their information shared with credit reporting agencies under new reforms proposed by the Federal Government.

Presented to parliament by Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, late last month, the Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 tax integrity and other measures) bill would allow the ATO Australian Taxation Office to pass on tax debt information of non-cooperating businesses to credit reporting agencies – potentially affecting credit scores.

Investments in Australia’s FinTech sector plummet by 50%

Investments in Australian companies in the financial technology (FinTech) sector has plummeted by more than 50% in the first half of this year, from US$223 million in the same period last year to $101 million.

According to data from professional services firm KPMG , the drop in Australia mirrors a global trend. Across the globe, total investments pumped into FinTech firms, including venture capital, private equity investment and merger & acquisition deal value, dropped to $37.9 billion in first half of 2019 across 962 transactions. The drop was driven primarily by the lack of massive deals like 2018’s $14 billion raise by Ant Financial, or the $12.9 billion acquisition of Worldpay by Vantiv.

Bargaining imbalance between media and digital platforms must be addressed | ACCC

Disruption and dislocation in the media markets should concern all Australians, ACCCAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission The ACCC is Australia's competition regulator and national consumer law champion. Chair Rod Sims said at the Melbourne Press Club today.

In a speech reflecting on the recommendations in the final report of the ACCCAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission The ACCC is Australia's competition regulator and national consumer law champion.’s Digital Platforms Inquiry, released last month, Mr Sims noted the regulatory imbalance between traditional media and digital platforms.

Leave lending to lenders, not second-guessing bureaucrats

Why did ASICAustralian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator. asic.gov.au even bother? Justice Nye Perram yesterday delivered a devastating assessment of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s case against Westpac for allegedly breaching responsible lending laws over 250,000 times between 2011 and 2016. The supposed breaches sound like the sort of dastardly behaviour against a small city of innocent banking victims that should be put through the ringer of a royal commission. Except that, as the Federal Court judgment says, it is “a case about the operation of the responsible lending laws without any allegation of irresponsible lending”.

Judge Perram found that “a credit provider may do what it wants in the assessment process”. What a lender could not do was “make unsuitable loans”. In other words: leave banks – the institutions with the expertise and incentive to write good loans – to assess risks for home loans. After all, it is hardly in a bank’s own interest to lend to people who are unlikely to be able to pay the money back. By and large, banks are likely to be best placed to work out how to do that. If lenders and borrowers get caught up in a speculative excess, then it should be up to the prudential supervisor or the central bank to take away the punch bowl, not the corporate conduct regulator.

Canberra to push banks on data sharing after Consumer Data Right laws pass parliament

The Morrison government has ushered the Consumer Data Right legislation across the line, with the financial services sector the first to come under the purview of the data-sharing regime.

Under CDR, consumers will have more freedom to switch ­financial institutions, with the flexibility to be later extended to the energy and telecommunications sector as well.

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