Pulse Alert – News Pulse for September 12, 2019

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

The ‘neo-banks’ that Australians are rushing to join 

Two new banks promising to shake up the way we manage our finances have burst into Australia’s otherwise stagnant banking market, and customers are flocking to them in droves.

According to the banks’ own figures, at least.

The two so-called ‘neo-banks’, Xinja and 86 400, are completely digital offerings with no branches to speak of, instead providing a range of traditional banking services through apps on customers’ smartphones.

Banks assume role of moral compass for legitimate businesses

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell says banks are wrong to discriminate against legitimate small businesses in the adult industry by blocking their access to essential financial services.

“My office is continuously contacted by sex workers who have complained they have been denied banking services such as merchant facilities to allow them to conduct their business,” Ms Carnell says.

Wildcard turns on Millennial savings product

Wildcard, which has applied to the competition regulator to participate in testing of the open banking regime, wants to use the ‘consumer data right’ to build a bank-switching service to allow customers of incumbent banks to move all of their payee and direct debit details to the start-up with one click.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCCAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission The ACCC is Australia's competition regulator and national consumer law champion.) last week closed off expressions of interest from potential data recipients keen on testing their systems and processes from October, ahead of live data being available from February .

Red-tape cuts to get us moving

The Coalition government has put major ­infrastructure projects at the centre of a new deregulation agenda amid calls to bring forward spending on road, port and rail projects to boost economic growth.

Streamlining state and federal approval and licence ­regimes for major infrastructure projects — along with tearing up rules that inhibit the nation’s food manufactures, and making it easier for sole traders to hire — would be the focus of the Morrison government’s new deregulation “taskforce”.

R&D funding fell by $4 billion and explorers, tech are suffering

With the Morrison government obsessed with achieving the first budget surplus since the GFC, research and development schemes suffered substantial cuts in April’s budget .

A report at the end of August showed total cuts amounted to $4 billion. Shadow minister for industry and small business Brendan O’Connor labelled the investment figures “dismal”.

‘Safeguards missing’: Reform allowing ATO to share tax debt information comes under fire

A controversial proposal which would enable the tax office to share business tax debt information with credit bureaus has privacy issues that need to be ironed out before any program is implemented, small business advocates say.

A Senate committee last week recommended the federal government pass an expansion of Australian Tax Office (ATO Australian Taxation Office) powers which will see third parties gain access to some business tax debt information, despite widespread criticism of the reforms during consultation.

Data retention should stretch to seven years, Queensland Police says

The Queensland Police Service says that there is a case for extending from 24 months to seven years the length that telcos need to retain ‘metadata’ to comply with Australia’s data retention regime.

The data retention regime is currently subject to statutory review by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCISParliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security). In a submission to the committee’s inquiry, QPS states that in its view the current dataset that telcos must retain to comply with the data retention regime is appropriate.

Fintechs get inquiry

Regulatory barriers preventing Australian fintech firms from flourishing could be lowered, with a new parliamentary inquiry into the fledgling sector established by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg.

Senator Bragg’s motion passed the upper house on Wednesday, setting up a new select committee on financial and regulatory technology. It will examine the scope and opportunity for consumers and businesses from the fintech sector.

Senate creates select committee on fintech and regtech

The government wants to better co-ordinate its support of the financial technology industry, backing the establishment of a Senate select committee that will examine issues including the implementation of ”open banking” and start-up access to the real-time payments system.

The committee is expected to be chaired by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, who moved a motion to establish it on Wednesday afternoon. It will spend a year investigating the policy settings for fintech and regulatory technology (regtech), global developments and barriers to uptake.

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