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Bitcoin Group aims to raise $20 million with ASX listing

10:11AM | Tuesday, 14 October

Bitcoin Group, the entity behind Melbourne-based bitcoin arbitrage fund Bitcoins Reserve, is set to list on the ASX next month.   The company wants to raise $20 million at 20 cents a share, as it looks to capitalise on short-term gains from its arbitrage fund and “medium-term” profits from bitcoin mining.   Bitcoin Group co-founder Sam Lee has been in China recently negotiating with investors who have recently cashed out of Alibaba’s initial public offering about the potential of coming on board post-listing. He says the company is being supported by a Chinese millionaire, who only wants to be known as Mr Gao, who is funding the company pre-listing.   “The short-term opportunity that we’ve capitalised on is the cryptocurrency arbitrage fund, but that will obviously have diminishing returns as more and more become involved,” Lee says.   “We see the medium-term objective being profiting through bitcoin mining, to support the network that will allow safe and secure payments and transactions.   “Over the next two years, the system is set to issue 1.3 million bitcoins per year and at current market value ($A446 per bitcoin) this is equivalent to a $580 million dollar per year opportunity.”   Lee says the Bitcoin Group wants to make up between 5-10% of the total bitcoin mining pool, but admits that number is speculative given the amount of variables involved in bitcoin mining.   The company will be following in the footsteps of DigitalBTC, an Australian bitcoin mining and digital currency trading company that listed on the ASX in March.   Exactly where Bitcoin Group sets up its operation is still up in the air, although the evidence points towards China. A number of factors will be taken into account when deciding where to set up, including power prices, the labour costs related to maintaining mining equipment, and proximity to mining equipment manufacturers. Lee says it’s likely that Bitcoin Group’s mining operation will be outside of Australia.   The group’s long-term goal is more ambitious, that is to ride on the coattails of bitcoin, which Lee says will eventually be a payments platform on par with Visa, MasterCard and American Express.   “The ultimate goal of bitcoin is to create a global payment network that people could utilise to do remittance, and also currency exchange through an unbanked system,” he says.   “This is essentially where bitcoin will really shine in the long run, and therefore the long term objective is to become a payment processor or gateway, just like Visa, MasterCard and American Express.”   Bitcoin Group is also funding a new co-working space in Melbourne and giving bitcoin startups the chance to use it for free until the end of the year. There’s a chance that it could invest in some of those startups in the future.   “To get to know a company well enough for us to invest in their operation, it requires a timeframe to get to know them, if they are to operate out of our space, then we’re able to fast-track our decision-making,” he says.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.   Title image: Allan Guo (left) Sam Lee (right) with the Bitcoin Group.

Five key features you can expect to find up Apple’s sleeve with the iPhone 6

9:22AM | Wednesday, 3 September

Apple is expected to launch the latest version of the iPhone at an event it is hosting at the Flint Center for Performing Arts in Cupertino, California, next week.   Apple has already sent invitations to an event taking place on September 9th at 10am, local time. In a curious move, there are reports the notoriously secretive tech giant has gone so far as to construct its own multi-storey structure alongside the venue.   The choice of location is particularly significant because it is the venue where Apple launched its first Macintosh computer in 1984. It is also significantly larger than the Yerba Buena Center or the theatre at Apple’s corporate headquarters, where the tech giant normally makes its major new product announcements.   Speculation about the new device hasn’t escaped its key rivals, with a list of consumer electronics giants including LG, Samsung, Microsoft and Motorola – and possibly others – all gearing up for major product launches of their own over the next month.   So what can we expect to find from the iPhone 6? Here are some of the more credible rumours about what we can expect from the device: 1. A larger screen and, perhaps, a phablet   As far back as November last year, there have been persistent and credible reports Apple has been working on two different models of the iPhone 6.   According to most reports, the first model is set to feature a 4.7-inch display, while the second will include a 5.5-inch screen. This would make them close in size to the 5-inch display on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the 5.7-inch display used on the Galaxy Note 3.   Along with the move to two screen sizes, Apple is reportedly moving away from the plastic casing used on its current low-end device, the iPhone 5s.   Aside from the usual Apple rumours sites, reports about the two screen sizes have appeared in a number of credible business publications, including The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.   Unfortunately, it is not clear if both versions of the iPhone will be available at launch, with some speculation the larger 5.5-inch phablet version could be on hold until next year. 2. Mobile payments   According to a second credible rumour, Apple has been working on its own mobile payments platform centred on the iPhone 6.   During the past week, a number of respected publications including The Information, Re/Code and Bloomberg have independently confirmed with sources that Apple has struck a number of deals with major payment providers, retailers, and banks.   Those signing up to the payment platform include credit card and payments giants American Express, Visa and MasterCard.   The reports suggest the iPhone 6 will include an NFC (near-field communications) chip, a technology used to power tap-and-pay credit cards and public transport systems.   It will allow iPhone 6 users to make purchases with their smartphones, rather than by using a credit card or by paying with cash.   While NFC-chip technology has long been a standard feature of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry smartphones, Apple has long held out on using it in its devices. 3. Does Apple have anything up its sleeve?   For years, it has been rumoured Apple has had a smartwatch, or iWatch, up its sleeve.   In recent years, the hype surrounding wearable devices, including smart bracelets and smartwatches has grown, with many expecting Apple to eventually join the market.   Following the release of the Pebble in January 2013, a number of consumer electronics and device manufacturers have dipped their toes in the market, including Sony, LG, Motorola and Samsung, among many others. Other companies, such as Microsoft, are believed to be working on wearables of their own.   At the Google I/O developer conference, the search and mobile giant unveiled its Android Wear device platform. Meanwhile, rival consumer electronics makers are working on smartwatches with their own SIM cards, as well as round clockfaces.   The growing speculation is that the time is right for Apple to release its smartwatch – before it’s too late. 4. iOS8   Whether or not the iPhone 6 comes in a larger form, accepts mobile payments or is partnered to a smartwatch, one thing is for certain: it is set to run iOS8.   First unveiled during the company’s WorldWide Developer Conference during June, iOS8 will bring along a number of new features for users.   The new version of the mobile operating system is designed to be interoperable with the new version of Mac OS X, known as Yosemite.   The improved interoperability means users will be able to use their Mac as a speakerphone for their iPhone, read and send their iPhone messages from their Mac, or use a feature called Handoff to pass activities from one device to another.   It will also come with a new health tracking app called Health, which uses a new underlying API called Healthkit to gather health tracking data from a range of third-party health tracking apps and devices.   iOS8 also includes the foundations of Apple’s Internet of Things home automation platform, known as Homekit. 5. A sapphire display   In August, some photos of the new device leaked showing a thinner, lighter version of the iPhone. But one feature in particular was notable: the use of sapphire, rather than glass, for the screen.   While the choice of material is likely to make the device significantly more expensive, a less shatter-prone iPhone will certainly be music to the ears of anyone who has ever accidentally busted a mobile phone screen.   This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.

THE NEWS WRAP: Apple partners with Amex, Mastercard and Visa for iPhone 6 payments

8:27PM | Sunday, 31 August

Apple is partnering with American Express, Mastercard and Visa, to enable iPhone 6 owners to pay for goods in physical stores.   Sources have told Re/code that American Express has agreed to be part of the company’s mobile payments platform, while Bloomberg sources confirmed the involvement of Visa and Mastercard.   The new payments system is expected to let iPhone 6 owners use their phones in place of credit cards, debit cards or cash to pay for goods in brick-and-mortar stores.   It’s not clear which retailers have signed on to accept such payments.   Alibaba IPO planned for next week   Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, will hold what is expected to be the world’s largest initial public offering next week, a source familiar with the deal has told The Wall Street Journal.   The deal could raise more than $20 billion and be the world’s largest in years, and would mean Alibaba shares would begin trading as soon as September 18 or 19.   $400 for Apple’s wearable?   Apple executives have discussed charging around $400 for the company’s new wearable device, although it’s not yet clear whether or not the price will be set in time for Apple’s September 9 press event, where it’s expected to be unveiled.   Sources have told Re/code to expect a range of prices for different models, including lower priced versions.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 18.88 to 17,098.45. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.

Start Up Australia launches, not to be confused with StartupAus

7:52PM | Wednesday, 30 July

A new not-for-profit body launched Wednesday, which promises to support startups – by which it means companies that have just started up.   Start Up Australia, will offer a number of free resources to entrepreneurs to help get their businesses and business ideas off the ground.   The organisation is part of a global Start Up network, with similarly named organisations in 44 countries, which is why the group couldn’t avoid confusion with another startup body, StartupAus (which focuses specifically on tech startups).   Start Up Australia’s Miriam Feiler says the best way for entrepreneurs to learn is through the advice of people who’ve done it before.   “We want to create a greater number of business start-ups here by providing the skills, encouragement, mentoring and training of people with big ideas, others who may have been retrenched, new mums working from home, retirees wanting to become self-employed. In fact, any Aussie who has ever dreamed of running their own business and wanted to have a go,” she says.   “Business is the engine room of the economy and our goal is for Australia to become the most entrepreneurial nation by 2020.”   The services it offers to entrepreneurs who sign up include a five day online conference featuring the stories of “50 of Australia’s business leaders” from a wide variety of industries, and a free 12 week online Small Business MBA sponsored by the Fortune Institute and hosted by entrepreneur Siimon Reynolds.   @rosepowell @BobbyWalter @gbissett @bigyahu Maybe someone in the media should call this for what it looks like. Lead gen for paid content? — Scott Handsaker (@shandsaker) July 30, 2014   Feiler rejected the notion that the organisation was a lead generator for paid content.   “Everything we’re doing is offered for free, through the support of corporate Australia,” she says.   She pointed to the Start Up Australia’s privacy policy when pressed further.   That privacy policy says Start Up Australia collects personal information on its users through visitor registration, webinar registration, newsletter sign up forms and event registrations securely so it can “provide and promote Start Up Australia’s  program to is users”, and inform them of “updates, promotions, and competitions pertaining to the Start Up Australia movement”.   It also says personal information, like users names, company and business contact details, may be shared with Start Up Australia’s sponsors/partners. Users can opt out by contacting Start Up Australia.   Start Up Australia’s founding sponsors include American Express, MYOB, ACCI and The Fortune Institute.   The organisation receives no government funding and is negotiating with a number of corporate partners for extra support.   The entrepreneurs behind the project include Reynolds, Brian Sher and John McGrath, with the support of Naomi Simson, Paul Greenberg, Creel Price, Larissa Robertson and James Stevens.   Like StartupAus, Feiler says Start Up Australia will work to produce data on startup companies which will be used to help guide government policy.   StartupAus board member Steve Baxter says StartupAus welcomes the efforts of all organisations working to support startups (though he appeared to be using the term differently relating it only to ‘tech’ startups).   “There are many different organisations and groups passionate about the tech startup ecosystem and its growth in Australia,” he says.   “StartupAus already works closely with Startup QLD, Startup Victoria, Startup Adelaide, Startup Tasmania, co-working spaces, AVCAL, the AIIA and many more.   “We look forward to seeing the tech startup community become a driving force in the Australian economy because of these efforts and more importantly the passionate tech entrepreneurs who are leading the charge.”   Confusion around how the public uses the term “startup” was highlighted by Google Engineering director and StartupAus board member Alan Noble recently, who said that the way Australians understand the term “startup” is too broad.   Speaking at the Vivid Sydney Smart Money forum, Noble noted that it was important policymakers understood the difference between small lifestyle businesses and the kind of startups that could make a real difference to the Australian economy.

Small business owners struggling with tax and at risk of major fines

6:33AM | Wednesday, 19 June

Small business owners are running serious financial risks due to knowledge gaps about tax, new research has found.   More than 1000 Australian small business owners were surveyed in a study commissioned by American Express.   While most small business owners (73%) understood they were responsible for errors in their tax returns even if they used an accountant, many were not clear about GST responsibilities, tax deductions and write-offs.   Tax consultant Adrian Raftery told StartupSmart the survey reveals why so many small businesses fail within seven years, adding there could be a link between failed businesses and a lack of understanding of tax obligations and concessions that are available.   “With knowledge gaps like this, how are they reading their profit and loss sheets? Are they saving for tax time so it doesn’t impact cashflow too much?” Raftery says.   He says the risk of getting caught and fined is quite high for small business owners.   “Even if it’s an honest mistake, the chance of getting caught is still reasonably high because of data matching and the analysis the ATO can do these days,” he says.   Raftery says the combination of the interest charged on missing tax combined with penalties could cause critical issues for small businesses.   The research shows ongoing confusion around GST with 65% of small businesses believing they need to register for GST once they are turning over $50,000 a year, when they actually don’t need to register for GST until they’re turning over $75,000.   Small business owners are also missing out on concessions and possibly making expensive errors because of confusion around claiming receipts and write-offs. Only 9% of businesses thought they were too small to come to the attention of ATO auditors.   Young entrepreneurs are significantly more at risk, with the research revealing 51% of entrepreneurs under 34 were not aware they were responsible for errors in their tax returns. They were also more likely to lose receipts.   Raftery says the confusion often comes from misunderstanding the tax system.   “Accountants devote their whole lives to knowing and keeping up with this. But business owners should make an effort to be aware of the tax landscape and the rules,” he says.   Losing receipts was more of an issue for companies with three or more employees. Across all the business owners surveyed, the receipts most likely to be lost were petrol (40%), stationery (32%) and food and beverages (23%).   A key confusion for small business owners was entertainment deductions. According to Raftery, most small business owners don’t realise that any meal that involves alcohol can’t be claimed, as the write-off is for working lunches and “mere sustenance”.   Almost half (46%) of the small business owners surveyed thought they could claim $300 worth of deductions without receipts. This option is only available for individual tax returns, not for company returns.   Many of those surveyed also didn’t realise they could claim taxes paid last year based on losses made this year. Just over half didn’t realise they could claim write-offs for equipment purchased for home-based businesses.   One in three small business owners surveyed still kept their receipts in a shoebox and 42% used accounting software.   “The most common honest mistakes come from mathematical errors, just the general calculation errors. If you’re not using accounting software, you’re doing more calculations and so you’ll be at greater risk.”   Not only were many small businesses struggling to navigate the tax system, 69% said tax reporting was increasingly complicated.   But Raftery says it gets easier.   “The tax obligations can seem quite complicated and onerous. With experience and doing quarterly BAS and an annual return and knowing what to claim and being educated over a couple of years, it does get easier. But you do need to invest the time at the beginning to understand it, and make sure you have a good accountant.”   Concern around navigating the tax system was higher for more profitable companies, with 75% of those making more than $200,000 a year saying it was getting increasingly complicated.   According to the survey, small businesses spend an average of 20 hours a year on tax reporting, with businesses turning over $200,000 or more spending more than double that each year.

Gamification takes centre stage in new innovation tool Blitz

2:41AM | Wednesday, 27 February

Australian gaming company 3rd Sense has outlined how it built an online tool called Blitz, developed by Dr Ken Hudson, which uses gamification principles to drive corporate innovation.

Start-ups strut their stuff at CES 2013

3:19AM | Monday, 11 March

The 2013 International CES, the largest in the tech show’s 45-year history, has wrapped up, with start-ups ranging from the Pebble ‘smartwatch’ to a device that informs people if they haven’t taken prescribed medication grabbing attendees’ attention.

Young entrepreneurs trump older bosses in profit stakes: Report

9:24AM | Wednesday, 26 September

Companies run by young entrepreneurs are more likely to make a profit than those run by older business owners, new research shows, although a lack of industry knowledge remains a major roadblock for tyros.

Why not you?

8:22AM | Thursday, 9 August

Back in the 1800s and early 20th century, women in Britain used to gather in homes to make chains.

Australian consumers will spend 12% more for good service, survey shows

7:13AM | Friday, 13 July

Australian consumers are willing to spend an average 12% more for excellent service, according to an American Express report, but 40% of consumers say Australian businesses miss the mark.

Top 10 Android apps for start-ups

6:48PM | Thursday, 14 June

This week’s Apple Developers Conference in San Francisco saw the tech giant ratchet up its battle with Google, unveiling its own mapping service and a beefed-up voice-activated service. 

American Express to plough $100 million into digital start-ups

11:45AM | Friday, 11 November

American Express has unveiled plans to invest $100 million in eCommerce-based start-ups, with the credit card giant set to accept applications from around the world.

Female entrepreneurs more likely to use social media: Report

11:34PM | Thursday, 10 November

Female business owners are 6% more likely than their male counterparts to use at least one form of social media in their business, according to a new study released by American Express.

DealsDirect buys corporate shopping and reward site Shoppers Advantage in its biggest ever acquisition

10:10AM | Friday, 14 October

Online department store DealsDirect has upped the ante on its string of acquisitions, purchasing the corporate shopping group Shoppers Advantage in a deal that will add around $25 million in revenue per year and a member database of over three million.

Corporates and start-up apps scoop 2011 Mobile Awards

9:58PM | Sunday, 11 September

Architecture software maker Aconex, Rebel Sport and start-ups LookOut Mobile and Apps Perhaps have been named as some of the winners of this year's Mobile Awards, organised and run by eBusiness consulting firm A Thinking Company.

Six key ways to improve your customer service

5:51AM | Wednesday, 2 May

Your business can’t survive without a steady stream of happy customers. But despite this, large numbers of Australian businesses aren’t putting enough emphasis on customer satisfaction.

Aussie businesses falling down on customer service: Survey

7:10PM | Thursday, 28 July

A third of Australian consumers believe businesses pay less attention to giving good customer service in the current economic climate, according to a new global survey.

Eight in 10 start-ups in the dark over tax deductions: report

6:17AM | Wednesday, 29 June

More than eight in 10 start-up entrepreneurs do not know what constitutes an allowable tax deduction, new figures reveal, suggesting tomorrow will be a fraught end of financial year for many emerging companies.

Reach out to your local market

6:24AM | Thursday, 2 June

While there’s been plenty of talk about Australian consumers increasingly purchasing goods from overseas website, it’s not completely one-way traffic.

Currency consultancy

5:21AM | Tuesday, 17 May

The fluctuating Australian dollar continues to be a cause for concern for many Australian businesses, suggesting there is an opportunity to develop a service around the notion of currency “protection”.

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