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Start-ups, FinTech & broadband: Tech features of the Australian Budget 2016-17

11 May 2017

The treasurer delivered the Australian Federal Budget 2016-17 on Tuesday 9 May 2017 at 7.30pm.

The Budget outlines the estimated revenues and fiscal outlook for Australia. The budget year, expenditure for the current financial year and three forward financial years are included in the document.

FinTech

The 2016-17 Budget includes an enhanced regularity sandbox for the FinTech industry. The legislative financial services regulatory sandbox is designed to enable new and innovative FinTech products and services to be tested in Australia.

According to a statement on the Australian Governments website, this sandbox is a move toward trying to retain the rising Australian talent that tends to move offshore due to the number of challenges theses new businesses are confronted with.

One of the challenges that has been eradicated is the need to obtain a licence.

However, to be eligible for unlicensed testing, firms must meet minimum consumer protections and are limited to 12 months of unlicensed testing.

The sandbox allows more businesses to test a wider range of new financial products and services without a licence, including providing more holistic financial advice, issuing consumer credit, offering short-term deposit or payment products, and operating a CSEF intermediary.

President of ACS, Anthony Wong, comments on the Budget’s commitment to the digital economy.

“We would see three key pillars to achieving an economy higher up the value chain and one which affords higher paying jobs; these being a strong banking and finance sector, a strong cyber security capability that delivers trust, and developing high-level STEM skills in the education system.”

ACS states that the Government has committed to investing $10.7 million over four years to the Digital Transformation Agency.

This is to establish the Cyber Security Advisory Office (CSAO) intended to strengthen governance across government projects and cyber security assurance.

Wong adds, “we were pleased to see the investments in the Cyber Security Advisory Office, backing of our FinTech sector, and the commitment to improving student outcomes,”

Start-ups and Entrepreneurs 

The Government’s Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan is a part of the 2016-17 Budget. The Plan lowers the company tax rate to 25% for businesses that turnover less than AU $10 million annually.

This increases the small business entity turnover threshold from AU $2 million to AU $10 million per annum – giving 90,000 additional businesses access to a range of small tax concessions.

The proposal aims to make it easier for small businesses to raise capital. In addition to this, the Government released a draft legislation to extend crowd-sourced equity funding (CSEF) to proprietary companies which will also be able to have an unlimited number of CSEF shareholders.

The Budget highlights the Australian Government’s initiative to support innovation with the establishment of the AU $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

The National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) highlights the Government’s initiative to fuel individual and business innovation by improving collaboration and access to capital.

The Government also highlights their focus on helping young Australians get the skills they need for jobs in the digital era.

Corporate service delivery and workforce capability

According to a statement on the Australian Governments website, the Modernisation Fund was introduced as a part of the 2016-17 Budget.

Government initiatives have been outlined to allocate the Modernisation Fund to reforms that deliver quality government services at lower cost and use leading technology and collaborative approaches to address complex problems facing society.

In addition to this, with the Data Integration Partnership of Australia the Government will transform the current processes in place for the analysis of data. This will see data integrated from across government and will provide access via a single-entry point.

In turn, this is will reduce duplication, encourage efficient and lead to long-term reform in data collection and use, according to a statement on the Australian Government website.

By transforming the processing of data, more effective and better-targeted services can be created in education, social services, health and aged care.

The National Broadband Network rollout

As a part of the Government’s ‘Stronger Growth’ initiative, the Budget reveals a plan to bring broadband to each area of Australia. According to a statement by the Australian Government, the network is being built using technology matched to each specific area in Australia.

The network aims to bring access to the digital economy to all Australians so that they can benefit from the economic and social benefits that come with improved network connectivity.

The Government announced in 2016 that it had committed AU $60 million towards specific mobile black spot locations, as part of the $220 million Mobile Black Spot Program.

According to a statement on the Australian Governments website, the program is delivering almost $600 million in new mobile infrastructure. It will also provide 765 new and improved base stations that will improve the coverage for regional Australians.

Closing the Gap: English language learning for indigenous children

AU $5.9 million, from the 2016-17 Budget will got to trailing the use of digital applications to improve the English literacy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

The trail will include 20 preschools around Australia and be conducted over two years, 2019 and 2020.

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