In Brief

Incent makes crypto sense out of spending dollars and cents

By Leon Gettler >>

IMAGINE a customer loyalty scheme that rewards customers by increasing their wealth with cryptocurrency. That’s the aim of the start-up Incent.

Incent offers a reward to consumers with cryptocurrency every time they make an expenditure to a merchant from their bank account.

The company was started in 2016 and has been trading on one of the largest crypto exchanges since 2017. It has been trading at around 28 Australian cents for every Incent token.

“We have developed a technology around open banking API (application programming interface) infrastructure which allows us to seek a users’ permission to understand where they’re spending and when they’re spending – and that allows us to drive reward value into their Incent account every time we track a transaction,” Incent CEO and co-founder Rob Wilson told Talking Business.

He said the API open banking technology was not particularly new. 

“Our unique IP (intellectual property) is the machine learning we put on top of open banking API technology, in order that we can identify the specific merchant and reward against expenditure at that specific merchant,” Mr Wilson said.

“And the reason that’s tricky is because across the banking system there’s no universal standard for identifying merchants, so the machine has to learn as we gather information about who’s who, in order that we can precisely reward against specific merchants regardless of where a consumer might be banked,” he said. “So that’s our clever bit.”


Mr Wilson said the process involved the user ‘syncing’ whatever bank they want to be rewarded against. They do not have to swipe a card or have any specific affiliation with that merchant. He said it was a totally “frictionless experience for the user”.

“Once that is done, every time we track a transaction out of that bank account, we reward the user proportionately in Incent, so it allows the user or the consumer to literally build cryptographic wealth as they go about living their life,” Mr Wilson said.

“They don’t need to swipe a card, they’re rewarded with something with real monetary, tradable value.

“Our aim is to allow ordinary Australians to experience building their own sovereign wealth because they’re just going about living their lives. That’s our first objective.

“And I should be clear, it’s a genuine trade. Consumers are in possession of sovereign data, their expenditure habits, which when aggregated and anonymised we believe will have a tremendous value for commerce.”


Incent changes the dynamics of personal data away from how current loyalty programs utilise it.

“At the moment, traditional loyalty programs harvest that data essentially for free and they re-market that data and sell that data at profit,” Mr Wilson said.

“Down the road, we definitely see a commercial use for that data and what we would like to do is encourage merchant partners to drive even more cryptographic wealth back into consumers’ pockets for patronising their business.”

Right now, however, the company is examining whether the Australian consumer wants to be rewarded in this way.

At this stage, the company is acquiring prospective users at about 100-150 a day, according to Mr Wilson.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



Woolworths’ planned PFD purchase 'opportunistic' says Ombudsman

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell has written to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to formally oppose Woolworths’ proposed acquisition of PFD Food Services Pty Ltd, claiming the deal would work against small business in the food retail industry.

The Ombudsman is urging the ACCC to block Woolworths’ proposed $552 million purchase of a controlling interest (65%) in PFD. Ms Carnell said the deal would be detrimental to small businesses in the food distribution sector and the economy more broadly.

“Woolworths has described its push into the food services sector as a ‘strategic investment’ but the timing is opportunistic at best,” Ms Carnell said.

“Woolworths has been a beneficiary of COVID restrictions, with its supermarket operations seeing a significant upswing in sales, while independent food distributors have struggled." 

PFD Food Services customers include pubs and clubs, cafés, airlines, hotels, restaurants, aged care and retirement villages, resorts and theme parks, convenience outlets, venue and field caterers, fast food outlets, schools and kindergartens, and sporting, child care and correctional facilities. The company's website proclaims that it "delivers a superior range of dry goods, frozen and chilled products, fresh seafood and meat, confectionery, paper products and cleaning solutions".

PFD Food Services began in 1943 as a family business "amid the noise and chaos of the Melbourne Fish Markets". PFD is now Australia’s largest privately owned foodservice network.

“Now that Woolworths has exhausted opportunities in the large supermarket space, it is moving into the smaller supermarket arena," Ms Carnell said. "Allowing Woolworths to buy PFD would significantly improve its competitive position against other smaller supermarket operators. Claims by Woolworths about plans to establish Chinese walls to prevent PFD passing on information about small supermarket competitors is questionable.

“This deal would also dramatically impact on the food distribution market – many of which are small and family businesses – especially outside the major cities," Ms Carnell said.

“Small food distributors are only now starting to get back on their feet after months of heavily restricted trade due to the forced closure of pubs, clubs and other commercial venues. To allow this deal to go ahead would be a real kick in the guts.

“I am also concerned about significant job losses as smaller suppliers and distributors would have a battle on their hands to compete, particularly if a major player like Woolworths moves into this sector.

“I share ACCC chair Rod Sims’ concerns about companies that have too much market power. Independent Food Distributors Australia (IFDA) estimates Woolworths – which already accounts for about a third of supermarket sales – would pick up a large chunk of the food services market as a result of this deal, setting smaller competitors up to fail.

“The ACCC should also consider the impact this deal could have on manufacturers and farmers," she said. "The last thing they need right now is a dominant market player putting price pressure on suppliers.

“Australian small businesses have been hit hardest by this pandemic and now is not the time for opportunistic takeovers by large corporations. Intervention by our regulators may be the only way to stop it.”


Generation Australia aims to generate early pathways to meaningful careers

By Leon Gettler >>

WITH THE BUDGET forecasting unemployment to peak at 8 percent in December 2020 and stay at around 6 percent until 2023, because of the coronavirus recession, the timing is perfect for Generation Australia.

Generation Australia is part of a global non-profit organisation, founded by McKinsey in 2015, to help support young people into meaningful careers.

It is now operating in 13 different countries and 100 different cities and was set up in Australia last year.

Erin Brindley, the national programs manager at Generation Australia, said the organisation aimed to disrupt the current approach to vocational training. 

She said Generation Australia’s initial focus was on young people, to tackle youth unemployment, because it is currently so difficult now for young people to access jobs without experience.

“But over the last year or so, we have realised our methodology works for anyone,” Ms Brindley told Talking Business.

“It’s especially relevant this time with COVID and the number of people who have been displaced who are either mid-career or later into their careers as well.”


Ms Brindley said Generation Australia’s methodology was demand-led. The organisation does a market-wide analysis to locate the jobs and spends a lot of time with employers to ensure there are jobs there at the end of the program.

“No matter where we are, we conduct what we call activity mapping and market research to look at where the demands are and what issues employers are facing,” Ms Brindley said.

“It might be retention of talent, it might be they are finding people coming into the entry level role without enough knowledge to do the role effectively.

“We take all these things into account and then we work with local partners to strengthen what we do.”

For example, with its disability worker support program, it works with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and the web developer program works with Academy XI.


Secondly, instead of focusing on technical skills, it looks at behavioural qualities and mindsets of job candidates to identify what it takes to succeed in those roles.

Generation Australia designs behavioural skills and mindsets to address those issues and provides mentoring alongside that.

It assesses every candidate to see whether they would fit in the role. It doesn’t examine skills so much as qualities like motivation, and whether candidates are fit for the role.

Generation Australia will continue to support job candidates for six months after they take on a new role.

With COVID-19, it now delivers its services online with a goal to eventually deliver some face to face when it is appropriate again. People can work in a group or individually with an instructor.

Generation Australia is now running two programs for job candidates. The first is for disability support work, now focused in the greater Sydney region and the Hunter Valley.

It is also running a junior web developer program. There are now 100 students training in that program with another 50-75 coming on board in mid-October.

These have been identified as the growth industries when the economy moves out of recession.

“It’s just expanding for us into any different where we feel we can support students and where it’s been shown that those are the industries and businesses that are going to rebound the quickest after COVID and once the market starts recovering,” Ms Brindley said. 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at  


Accountants call for 'holistic tax reform' to drive recovery

THE Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) chief executive is urging the Federal Government to think more broadly and implement holistic tax reform to drive productivity, innovation, jobs, and economic growth.

“We are expecting that the Federal Budget to be handed down in less than three weeks’ time, to deliver business incentives, tax cuts and other measures to create jobs and assist businesses to climb out of the COVID-19 mire,” IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway said.

“While these will be positive steps to begin the road to recovery post-pandemic, Australia desperately needs holistic, genuine and robust tax reform.

“Tax cuts, whilst welcome by most consumers, will lead to sub-optimal results if implemented in isolation and not in the context of holistic reform," he said.

“The IPA has long advocated for a tax system overhaul, having yet again reinforced this message in our pre-Budget submissions and countless others going all the way back to the Henry Review in 2008. 

“Our tax system is not fit for the purpose ahead of recovery from the pandemic, so it is not easy to just make tax changes without considering the broader impact on other aspects of the economy. The various elements are closely intertwined including the tax mix, personal services income, the plethora of inefficient state-based taxes such as payroll tax and stamp duty and other aspects of the economy including our regulatory framework. .

“Holistic reform won’t be easy or without controversy, however, it is essential if we are  to unshackle the restrictions and realise the potential of the economy in a post-COVID-19 environment," Mr Conway said.

“It needs everyone on board, at both Federal and State levels, and working to the one reform agenda. If the pandemic has taught us just one thing, it is the need to work together. National Cabinet has shown what can be achieved.  

“Reform of this nature does not happen overnight but if we are to see a rejuvenated Australian economy, it is now time to start the process,” Mr Conway said.


Ombudsman call for super tax cuts instead of employer super rises

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell swants the Federal Government to swap a rise in employer superannuation contributions for a cut in superannuation tax.

According to Ms Carnell, the government could take some financial pressure off small businesses without adversely impacting workers, by deferring superannuation guarantee increases and cutting taxes on superannuation payments. 

In a letter to the Treasurer, Ms Carnell has proposed a two-year deferral on legislated superannuation guarantee increases, while also cutting the 15 percent tax on compulsory employer superannuation guarantee contributions to 7.5 percent during that time.

Ms Carnell said the combined measures offset each other, to ensure workers end up with a similar superannuation amount as they would have under the scheduled increase.

“We have to get the balance right by ensuring small businesses aren’t hit with rising costs and workers are no worse off,” Ms Carnell said.

“Many small businesses are already struggling to stay afloat as a result of the COVID-induced recession and cannot afford to pay higher costs.

“These increased costs would put small business owners under even more financial strain, placing jobs and businesses at risk. It is equally important to safeguard the long-term financial future of Australians through superannuation," she said.

“Our modelling shows our proposed tax cut would cost the government no more than $6 billion per year and would also support struggling small businesses and help the millions of Australians who used the early access to superannuation program to start restoring their long-term super balance.     

“Ultimately, by implementing this proposal, the Federal Government would be supporting small businesses and all Australians who deserve a dignified retirement.”


New awards recognise 'internal talent' excellence

THE Internal Talent Awards, affectionately known as the ITAs, will be held virtually on Thursday November 19, 2020.

At the inaugural event, the ITAs will recognise and celebrate excellence in Internal Talent across individuals, teams and organisations. The concept of the ITAs came from TaPod co-hosts Lauren Sharp and Craig Watson, who inspire and entertain listeners during their weekly podcast which, they said, "shines a light, and a laugh, on the Australian Talent Acquisition (TA) community".

In a bid to see how their listenership were navigating their roles mid-pandemic, the duo circulated a survey to understand how TA would emerge post-Covid crisis. 

"Over 63 percent of respondents indicated that the role of Talent Acquisition will have increased responsibilities after the pandemic," director of Recstra and TaPod co-host, Craig Watson said. "And the industry deserves a platform to explore, embrace and celebrate these responsibilities."

Sharp People director and TaPod co-host, Lauren Sharp said, "The Internal Talent industry is filled with unheralded superstars. We are in the business of changing people’s lives with little fanfare or recognition.

"It’s time for us to acknowledge the star performers in our industry and highlight the initiatives that bring success to the Talent function."

The ITAs independent judging panel includes HR Tech Market director Rachel Hill, Avature ANZ director Adam Walker and major sponsor TQ Solutions director Gareth Flynn.

Nominations are open and will close on October 16.

TQ Solutions is the major sponsor for 2020 and other award sponsors include Talent Table, Oncore Services, CV Check, Alcami Interactive, Matchd and TaPod.

The ITAs will bestow the following awards at a Gala Virtual Ceremony on Thursday, November 19:

  • Talent Team of the Year.
  • Talent Professional of the Year.
  • Talent Leader of the Year.
  • Excellence in Candidate Experience.
  • Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion.
  • Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • Excellence in Employer Branding.

Further information on the nomination process and how to secure a ticket to the Gala Virtual Ceremony can be found at


Small business 'procurement panel' called for by Ombudsman

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell is calling on the Federal Government to establish a small business procurement panel. She said it will acce;lerate the way small businesses will play a critical role in the post COVID economic recovery,

The panel, proposed in ASBFEO’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan, would require Federal Government contracts, with a value of up to $10 million, to be offered through the small business panel as part of the tender process, before being opened to the wider market.

“The government has a golden opportunity to improve its procurement process to support the creation of jobs in the small business sector,” Ms Carnell said..

“The total number of Commonwealth Government contracts awarded to SMEs in 2018/19 was 26 percent. However 94 percent of government contracts are valued under $1 million with 59 percent below $80,000. It is clear small businesses could have a larger share of that pie.

“Unfortunately current government procurement processes preference large businesses. 

“A procurement system that discourages small business participation, won’t necessarily get the best value and also denies small businesses the opportunity to innovate, employ and grow," Ms Carnell said.

“I was encouraged to see Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews’ commitment to speak with the Prime Minister about the importance of using government procurement as a lever to building Australian capability and to bolster supply chains in the tech sector.

“Minister Andrews is absolutely correct. In fact, we believe this should be extended beyond the tech sector to small businesses more broadly, including manufacturing," Ms Carnell said.

“Small businesses still face significant barriers when participating in government procurement. It can be a costly exercise and small businesses don’t have the resources to complete overly complex tender documentation. The challenges of getting on to a panel in the existing system are onerous.

“Equally small businesses are often overlooked on the ‘value for money’ criteria. Just because they might not be able to offer the lowest price, doesn’t mean they are not competitive overall.

“Lowest cost is not always the best value for money. There’s a strong argument that prioritising Australian small businesses pays dividends to the entire economy.”


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