AfterPay is fintech champion

FINANCIAL technology innovator AfterPay has won the inauguralAustralianOrganisation of the Year award at the FinTech Australia National Awards 2017.

Known as the ‘Finnies’, the awards are curated with and for the Australian financial technology (fintech) industry.

Retail payments innovator Afterpay was awarded for its revolutionary approach to payment technology that allows customers to ‘buy now, receive now and pay later’.

“It’s truly an honour to accept this award from FinTech Australia and be recognised amongst our peers and the fintech community,” Afterpay managing director Nick Molnar said. 

“The retail industry is changing and innovation is key to keeping up with customers, who now have more power than ever in the way they choose to pay. We are proud to be able to offer a payment option that resonates with Australian consumers, and helps to stimulate sales and grow retail businesses.”
Afterpay recently celebrated its 12-month anniversary listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and now has more than 650,000 customers and over 4,300 retail merchants.

Mr Molnar said the platform continued to maintain a strong pipeline of Australia’s leading brands and has reported it currently processes about 15 percent of total online fashion retail and three percent of total online retail in Australia.

Over the past 12 months Afterpay has launched an anticipated iPhone and iPad app which shot to number one on the App Store within 48 hours of announcing the launch to its customer base. Afterpay is also branching out into department stores announcing significant partnerships with household Australian brands including Myer and Big W.

The fintech winner has also accelerated by partnering with e-commerce platforms, global heavyweight BigCommerce and established local Neto, as well as payments provider Tyro Payments.

Mr Molnar said Afterpay had hit it off with a range of consumers, in particular millennials, which comprise 73 percent.

“Retailers are truly connecting with millennials on a personal level and the advocacy through their customers has been incomparable,” Mr Molnar said.

Heavily focused on expanding to broader retail categories and consumer demographics is the way forward for Afterpay, he said.

The substantial increase to over half a million customers embracing the ‘buy now, receive now, pay later’ payment option reinforced this vision, he said.




EY detects ‘optimism’ for economy among CEOs

DESPITE  living in a time of unprecedented geopolitical uncertainty and disruption, EY’s latest Australasian Capital Confidence Barometer has found Australasian executives to be increasingly optimistic about both local and global economic conditions.

In a major turnaround from just six months ago, the latest barometer found a strong resurgence in economic confidence and positive corporate indicators among those surveyed. The number of Australasian executives who thought the global economy was improving has more than doubled in the last 12 months and the percentage who feel positive about their own economy has tripled since October 2016.

 “Executives are accepting that the ever changing geopolitical landscape is the new global geopolitical norm,” EY Oceania Transaction Advisory Services leader David Larocca said.

“While corporates expect to see a broadly conservative agenda that supports business building at home and abroad, the overwhelming pressure for growth is evident in our survey – executives are extremely confident of more and higher quality deal-making over the next 12 months.” 

The EY report is based on a global survey of more than 2300 senior executives across 43 countries, including 121 in Australia and New Zealand.



Confidence in the local mergers and acquisitions market is at a record high with 98 percent of respondents now believing the local market is stable or improving. Almost one-third (32%) expect to complete more deals in the next year and 82% expect asset valuations will increase or stay the same over the next 12 months.

Deal pipelines remain healthy with almost 60 percent of respondents having three or more deals in their pipeline. Most respondents expect these numbers to either remain stable or increase.

“There is greater confidence in the quality of transactions with 48 percentof those surveyed saying the quality of acquisitions is improving. This is up from just 14 percent, 12 months ago,” Mr Larocca said.

“This tells us there has been a significant improvement in the ‘meeting of minds’ between buyers and sellers which is also demonstrated by the 82 percent who think asset valuations will increase or stay the same over the next 12 months.”


Mr Larocca said the local increase in deal confidence was mirrored in the US with M&A intentions in that market growing significantly in the last 12 months. Confidence and the need for growth strategies are outweighing any anxieties about local or global economies and policies.

Markets have priced in anticipation of corporate tax reform, which could add a potential US$1 trillion of firepower that may be used in deal-making. 

“We see the US returning as a key driver in global deal-making activity, with 76% of US respondents looking to undertake an acquisition in the US or globally,” Mr Larocca said..



The EY report revealed one in five local respondents believed that increasing government intervention in corporate decision making poses the greatest economic risk to their business over the next six – 12 months, making it the biggest area of concern. In fact, more executives are worried about regulatory hurdles than about volatile currencies, commodities and other capital markets.

“From a macroeconomic perspective, local executives seem largely unconcerned with the policy uncertainty emerging in the US or the Brexit shakeout,” Mr Laroca said.. “They are more concerned with responding to shareholder demands to deliver growth and harnessing digital disruption to acquire new capabilities.  Deal-making is seen as key to succeeding on both of these fronts.”



Digital disruption is increasing as a priority, but most respondents are still struggling with digitalising their operations. Future proofing their business against digital disruption is seen as the most important issue for leaders, but local companies are more likely than their global peers (32% versus 24%) to find enabling a culture of digital innovation the most difficult part of their transformation.

At the same time, local workforce planning is more focussed on shifting talent and relocating people to other geographies than on automating roles within the workforce. Fifty-five percent of local respondents are looking to sell or outsource routine functions over the next 12 months. Only seven percent are planning to automate more roles within the workforce – but, there is a potential upside for those companies willing to embrace internal automation processes.

“More than half of those surveyed are looking to sell or outsource routine functions over the next 12 months – this tells us that we will continue to see an uptick in transactions including cross sector activity, as companies look to respond to digital disruption, ” Mr Larocca said.



Finance apps becoming ‘like your unused gym membership’

THE EXPERIENCE of Melbourne-based FinancePath is that the relatively new trend of utilising ‘finance apps’ to guide personal – and sometimes small business – finance is becoming akin to “your unused gym membership”.

According to FinancePath director and general manager Chris Collard, “far too many” business people are migrating to finance apps only to fail to use them properly to drive positive personal and business outcomes. In fact, the whole process has been found to place people under unnecessary stress. 

“It seems everywhere we turn there is media commentary regarding interest rates, how the banks are managing the changes in regulations and opinion around a potential property bubble,” Mr Collard said. “This commentary varies depending on the opinion or the ‘spin’ of the author. It’s no surprise we are all confused.”

Mr Collard said an Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) study had found about 30 percent of people found dealing with money “stressful and overwhelming”.

The Australian Financial Attitudes and Behaviour Tracker, published by ASIC in December 2014, suggested this saturation of information combined with “our increasingly busy lives” has led to a spike in the use of personal finance apps as people look for answers in trying to make sense of their own personal situations.

“Whether it is the likes of Pocketbook, Money Brilliant or My Prosperity, people are turning to these smart finance apps as a source of information as they endeavor to take control of their money,” Mr Collard said. “These apps aim to assist you to, one, track your day-to-day spending and, two, compare how much you have coming in and going out.”

Mr Collard said second only to gaming, finance apps were the fastest growing category in the Asia Pacific region.

“People are continuing to turn to these apps for convenience and ease as they seek simpler ways to gain insights to allow them to make smarter decisions with their money,” he said. “This is a great first step in getting control back, however simply downloading a finance app will only provide you nice looking graphs, unless you do something with the information.

“Just as jumping on scales alone won’t help you lose weight, simply joining a gym won’t get you lean and fit.”

Using the gym analogy, Mr Collard said many people who are not getting results themselves from self-organised exercise discovered they did make progress when they engaged with a trainer or a coach.

“The challenge with getting the most out of these apps is maintaining motivation and accountability,” Mr Collard said. “ Just like a personal trainer can assist you to put together a workout plan and keep you disciplined and accountable, it is important to identify what you are working towards and how you are going to take the next step in your financial fitness journey.”

It is the experience, knowledge and energy that counts most in finance, too, Mr Collard argued.

“Let face it few of us find budgets motivating. We want something just that little bit more inspiring,” he said, recommending most people do best from engaging a ‘coach’ or mentor.

“So, make sure the app can set and track goals and then ensure you have the support of a partner, financial professional or a mentor that you trust who will help keep you motivated and accountable,” Mr Collard said.

“Remember although this information can be useful, with no focus on a plan or a change in behavior, finance apps can quickly become the finance equivalent of your unused gym membership.”

Mr Collard has prepared a detailed analysis of finance apps and come up with what he believes are the top three available for Australians.


*FinancePath is a member of the 2017 Executive Leaders group of Victorian Leaders, the organisation inspiring and developing the next generation of leading Victorian companies.




How Lonely Planet's digital experience can guide Chartered Accountants.

DIGITAL transformation and change expert, Gus Balbontin will detail his experience surviving massive disruption at an international Chartered Accountants forum in Sydney.

As the former executive director and chief technology officer of Lonely Planet, Mr Balbontin was responsible for helping the business transition from print to digital. 

At Business Forum 2017, which is being run by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), he will deliver a special presentation on responding to the challenges of disruption and change.

Mr Balbontin will explain how businesses can adapt and do things differently, while gaining a competitive advantage.

“Kodak sold film and they missed Instagram," Mr Balbontin said. "They should have come up with Instagram. Kodak’s aim should have been to capture life and share life, not sell film."

CA ANZ’s head of education, Jeana Abbott, said, “We are looking at how you harness the power of purpose to differentiate your business.

“As part of that, we’re focusing on the future. Our experts will lead discussion on maintaining your purpose, while managing emerging issues and technology.

“It’s about overcoming challenges, reshaping your understanding of problems and solutions, and how you go about fixing those problems.

“Technology is changing the way we do business and it’s vital to be flexible and know how to adapt in a changing landscape," Ms Abbott said.

“It’s something all organisations are dealing with, including CA ANZ.  That’s why we launched our CA Kairos innovation initiative, giving our members skills, and tools, to access big data in a meaningful way.

“It combines work streams, systems and platform to help save time and give SMP Members access to meaningful insights, leading to better conversations and more reliable predictions for their clients.

“This is the time that all businesses need to be focused on change, to ensure their adaptability.”

Hundreds are expected to attend the two-day forum which will be held in Sydney on June 5 and 6, and in Auckland on June 8 and 9.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand represents 119,000 financial professionals.