The Financial System Inquiry has taken a “slow and steady” approach to financial crowdfunding, despite perceptions that Australia is lagging behind in this area. While acknowledging the wide range of global crowdfunding models, the report focuses on securities-based crowdfunding such as crowd-sourced equity funding (CSEF) or debt, and peer-to-peer lending (P2P), recommending: Graduate fundraising regulation to facilitate crowdfunding for both debt and equity and, over time, other forms of financing. The aim is to eventually have a holistic regulatory setting that can facilitate internet-based financing, including crowdfunding. For the moment, it will be an “adjust-as-you-go” approach with the regulations, but the focus will be on disclosure requirements of issuers and protection of retail investors. Since CSEF has far more regulatory requirements than P2P, the inquiry recommended a consultation on CSEF regulations, leading Treasury to immediately release a discussion paper on CSEF. The government’s measured approach is justified if we realise we are looking at the tip of a very huge iceberg. Crowdfunding is a whole new market with its own ecosystem. Just like we have emerging markets, frontier markets and so on, this financial crowdfunding market is expected to disrupt financial intermediation similar to what Amazon did to bricks-and-mortar bookshops. Tagging on keywords like collaborative finance, fintech, platforms, algorithms, networks, engagement, equity slices, social validation and momentum-investing, this market is projected to reach US$93 billion by 2025 and an astonishing US$300 billion once the developing countries release their crowd. With the new market comes new asset classes such as venture capital for retail investors. Take the case of Australian entrepreneurs Dan Joyce and Jared Mooring, now living in London, who pitched their venture My Mate Your Date (MMYD) on the UK equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube with a target of reaching £130,000 representing 20% equity by 21 December 2014. The project was pitched on the platform around 29 October 2014 (according to its Facebook entry). By 9 December MMYD had raised £110,550 (representing 85% of funds) from 97 investors, with the largest investment being £20,000. The pitch’s links to MMYD’s Facebook and Twitter, the stream of messages, “likes”, and “shares” and “comments” matter as much as the financials and key data. The social validation of a venture can make a casual observer become a curious investor, and then a self-appointed brand ambassador, passionately following the firm as it grows and into a possible IPO. This is the power of a networked, engaged crowd. The returns in these ventures are clearly much more than financial which explains the rush by even banks and large companies to back these ventures. SocietyOne Australia is backed by Rupert Murdoch and James Packer as well as Westpac’s Reinventure Group. Financial crowdfunding is a brilliant solution for the small and medium-sized enterprises’ funding gap issue, as well as for the economy’s innovation and industry competitiveness agenda, while delivering along the way the gift of efficient risk-return transactions to the crowd. That’s a lot of wins and doesn’t justify the slow approach. But, here’s why one needs a steady approach too - new market, new risks. Recently, Aurora Labs, a Perth-based startup that launched on Kickstarter on 23 September 2014 cancelled the campaign on 9 October despite receiving $304,755 from 122 backers - three times its $100,000 target - due to the company’s concerns over protecting its intellectual property (IP). Aurora had failed to understand Kickstarter’s disclosure requirements: When a project involves manufacturing and distributing something complex, like a gadget, we require projects to show a prototype of what they’re making, and we prohibit photorealistic renderings. The funders want as much detail as possible, while the issuer wants to protect IP. Questions around what “showing a prototype” really means and the level of detail required in its disclosure, need to be addressed. Other risks such as cross-jurisdictional/cross-border complexities, securitisation of unsecured loans, and a lack of disclosures of “real” returns have been highlighted in recent reports from Infodev/World Bank and the International Organization of Securities Commission. We also need to understand the “real” business model of these Fintech companies. LendingClub debuted this week on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol LC with a highpoint value of US$5.7 billion, but rose to more than US$9 billion on the first day of trading. Is it a “fin” or a “tech”? It is being valued as a technology company. We are back to the question: “What’s this fintech’s business model”? Well, that explains the “understand before you regulate” perspective of the inquiry. After all, we don’t need a regulation that turns out to be a lemon. This article originally appeared at The Conversation.
Apple is expected to hold an event to introduce its new iPhones on September 9, a source told The Wall Street Journal. It’s widely expected to launch two large-screen iPhones, one with a 4.7 inch display and another with a 5.5 inch display. The company declined to comment. Fox withdraws proposal to buy Time Warner Fox has announced it has withdrawn its $80 billion bid for the TV and movie conglomerate Time Warner. Fox chief executive officer Rupert Murdoch says his Time Warner counterpart Jeff Bewkes wouldn’t sit down and negotiate a deal, and Fox wasn’t going to negotiate with themselves. Time Warner shares fell after Fox announced it had withdrawn the proposal. Apple App Store breaking records Apple’s App Store saw record-setting revenue numbers in July, the company told CNBC. In addition to those numbers, the company also said its app store saw a record number of customers making transactions. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 139.81 to 16,429.47. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.
Candy Crush maker King Digital has disappointed investors with its IPO, with the stock down by as much as 16% in its first day of trading. The app developer listed with an IPO price of $US22.50, valuing the company at $US6 billion, but its price quickly fell to a low of $US18.90 in afternoon trade. While the company offers 180 different games, its two-year-old Candy Crush Saga game accounted for three-quarters of all its revenues in the last quarter of 2013. Lachlan Murdoch returns to News Corp Lachlan Murdoch has accepted a role as non-executive co-chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, while stepping down as a chairman and director of the Ten Network. “This appointment is a sign of confidence in the growth of News Corp and recognition of Lachlan's entrepreneurial leadership and passion for news, digital media and sport," Rupert Murdoch said. "In the elevated role, Lachlan will help us move News Corp forward as we expand our reach and invest in new technologies and markets around the world.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down to 16269.0. The Aussie dollar is up to US92.26 cents.
The bidding war for Australian dairy assets has taken an unexpected twist, with New Zealand-based dairy giant Fonterra launching an overnight raid on Bega shares. Overnight, Fonterra purchased 10% of Bega in an after-market share raid. Bega, in turn, is one of a number of companies bidding for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, joining Canadian food giant Saputo, Lion and Murray Goulburn. Lion, Bega and Murray Goulburn currently own 45% of WCB, which they are keen to purchase in a bid to cash in on the growing infant formula market in Asia. "The key issue is the purchase of milk off farmers; are there enough people wanting to buy their milk?" ACCC chair Rod Sims says. "Basically Fonterra, Murray Goulburn and Warrnambool buy about one-third of the milk and Bega is quite a small player in that market, so Bega [bidding for WCB] wasn't such an issue. There is a bigger issue with Murray Goulburn.” South Korea close to free trade agreement South Korea is close to agreement on a potential free trade agreement with Australia, following a visit by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop two weeks ago. According to The Australian, the key sticking point in negotiations was a clause dealing with international arbitration, which the Rudd/Gillard government was unwilling to agree to, but the current government is. “The new government is taking a different approach, so the hurdle is being removed,” Young-Moo Kim, director-general for FTA negotiation at South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, says. Murdoch says embrace innovation Rupert Murdoch has urged Australians to embrace the challenges posed by the emergence of a middle class in China through innovation, in a speech to the Lowy Institute. “While the lack of a huge domestic market presents challenges, it also means we have fewer huge industries demanding the government protections common in large industrial nations – and fatal for any society that hopes to advance in a disruptive world,” Murdoch said. “The disruptive forces in the world economy today are as relentless as they are remorseless. But once we embrace that reality, we can make sure they are rewarding.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.47% to 15545.75. The Aussie dollar is at US94.61 cents.
News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch has filed divorce papers in the New York Supreme Court, ending his marriage of 14 years to his third wife, Wendi Deng. Deng is best known for preventing comedian Jonathan May-Bowles from throwing a pie at Murdoch at a hearing into the News Corp phone tapping scandal. News of the divorce comes as Murdoch prepares to separate News Corporation into an entertainment company called 21st Century Fox, which will hold the company’s film and television assets, and a “new News Corp” which will own its publishing interests. AustralianSuper in the market for a merger AustralianSuper chief executive Ian Silk has revealed the $62 billion super fund is looking at mergers and acquisitions, with the $1.6 trillion retirement savings sector set to consolidate over the coming years. “It's pretty clear that the regulators and public policy is pushing in the direction of a smaller number of large funds rather than a large number of smaller funds,” Silk says. “If we are true to our label and true to our beliefs that we exist only for the benefit of members, then we should continue to grow so long as that growth adds value for members.” Slight improvement in unemployment rate, due to lower participation The unemployment rate fell slightly, from 5.6% in April to 5.5% in May, reducing the prospects for further Reserve Bank rate cuts. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the drop was led by 0.1% drop in the participation rate, with the number of full-time jobs down by 5300, offset by the creation of 6400 part-time jobs. The shift to part-time work was reflected in the number of hours worked, which fell 0.7% to 1.63 billion hours for May. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 1.21% to 15,176.08. The Aussie dollar is up to US96.47 cents.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is set to use a speech at the Per Capita Institute think tank in Canberra to reveal a $12 billion forecast deficit in the federal budget this financial year, due to lower taxes from companies. However, despite the massive shortfall, the Prime Minister is expected to rule out cuts to major new spending initiatives, including the Gonski school funding reforms or DisabilityCare. “Put simply, spending is controlled, but the amount of tax money coming to the government is growing much slower than expected. As we make those decisions, let me be crystal clear about what we will and won't do,” Gillard is set to say in the speech. “Our nation cannot afford to leave children behind or to leave our nation's future economy limping behind the pack, unable to attract the high-wage, high-skill jobs of the future … DisabilityCare must not be jeopardised.” Rupert Murdoch to cash in on News Corp split Rupert Murdoch’s remuneration is set to jump by nearly $4 million as a result of a split that will see News Corp divided into two separate companies in June. Under the proposal, Murdoch is set to become chairman and chief executive of the 21st Century Fox corporation, which will control his media empire’s broadcasting and entertainment assets, as well as the executive chairman of the “new News Corp” which will control the company’s publishing assets. While Murdoch’s base salary will remain at $US20.6 million for his role with both entities, his long-term incentives are set to increase from $US4 million to $US7.7 million. James Packer gains approval for Sri Lankan casino The Sri Lankan government has reportedly granted approval to gaming tycoon James Packer for a new casino in Colombo, according to a report in Sri Lanka's Business Times. Under the proposal, the $250 million Crown Colombo complex will include a 36-story casino and resort complex, to be built in the D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha district of Colombo. A Crown spokesperson said the gaming giant is yet to make a final decision on whether to go ahead with the project, and is evaluating a number of other offshore expansion opportunities. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.1% to 14712.6. The Aussie dollar is down to US102.82 cents.
Sydney-based start-up Eatlove has signed celebrity chefs such as Kylie Kwong and Matt Moran to its recipe website, having secured financial backing from Rupert Murdoch’s nephew. Eatlove, led by chief executive Mark Ashbridge (pictured below), describes itself as a “destination where food lovers can eat, cook and shop with inspiring chefs”. In essence, it encourages top Australian chefs to share and curate their favourite recipes and food knowledge directly with food enthusiasts online. Earlier this year, it was named Best Publisher at the AIMIA Awards. The business has announced a second partnership with food publisher Lantern, having already secured a deal with Murdoch Books, acquired by Allen & Unwin last year. Ashbridge is financially backed by Rupert Murdoch’s nephew Matt Handbury (pictured below), who sold Murdoch Books to Allen & Unwin. But that’s not the only big name Ashbridge has under his belt. Above: Matt Handbury. Eatlove says its partnership with Lantern, which takes effect in May, will increase the number of chef-authors to 50. Lantern, which is an imprint of Penguin Books, specialises in publishing high quality illustrated books, with a focus on food, travel, gardening, lifestyle, interior design and art. It will bring celebrity chefs such as Kylie Kwong, Maggie Beer, Manu Feildel, Tobie Puttock, Matt Moran, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan to Eatlove. Eatlove is seeking to raise around half a million dollars to fund the second iteration of the website and will consider globalising the content by introducing more international chefs. Above: Mark Ashbridge. Ashbridge, whose background is in music and publishing, told StartupSmart he came up with the Eatlove concept whilst working at Murdoch Books, where he served as head of digital. “My background is music and I noticed quite a lot of correlation between the two industries. Music is undergoing quite a lot through disruption,” he says. “With food, the same thing is happening. The physical books are still selling well but getting harder to sell, and a lot of consumers are going online for their content. “At the same time, [Murdoch Books asked me to] start developing a concept with food exclusively online… It was about challenging the status quo. “I wanted to do it in a way that was premium, and I also wanted to do it in a way that differentiates itself from recipe databases. Above: Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris. “It’s way more kind of curational and way more kind of celebrity or expert-orientated.” Ashbridge, who left Murdoch Books to set up Eatlove as a standalone business, admits getting celebrity chefs on board only came “with a lot of hard work”. “The value for us was in developing great working relationships with publishers who have created the content, namely Murdoch Books initially and Allen & Unwin, which got Murdoch, and also Lantern,” Ashbridge says. “It was two steps really – developing and showcasing the website to the publisher, who develops and owns the [chefs’] content, and working very close with the chefs. “What Eatlove should grow to be is something of a marketing channel for them.”
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