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MYOB pulls out of Reckon Accountants Group acquisition


MYOB has announced it will no longer be pursuing the AU$180 million acquisition of Reckon's Accountants Group assets. In a letter issued to shareholders of both companies on Thursday, MYOB highlighted it wasn't prepared for how long the regulatory process of the acquisition was going to take, and said as a result it has pulled the pin on the purchase. "The regulatory process has taken considerably longer than the parties anticipated and could continue for some time," MYOB wrote. "The sale and purchase agreement had a six-month duration within which the conditions precedent to completion had to be satisfied (including the regulatory conditions) failing which either Reckon or MYOB could terminate the contract." The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in late March highlighted concerns over the proposed acquisition, fearing MYOB might gain a market monopoly if it were to proceed.

ACCC puts question mark over MYOB's Reckon Accountants Group acquisition


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has highlighted concerns with MYOB's proposed acquisition of Reckon's Accountant Group for AU$180 million, fearing the former might gain a market monopoly as a result. The ACCC's preliminary view is that the proposed acquisition is likely to substantially lessen competition in the supply of practice software to medium and large accounting firms, the ACCC's Statement of Issues [PDF] explains. "The ACCC understands that medium to large accounting firms require more sophisticated features from practice software, reflecting larger sizes, more complex structures and processes, and more diverse needs of their clients," the ACCC wrote. "Market feedback indicates that for those firms, the MYOB AE and Reckon APS products are generally considered to be the only options available. "Market feedback indicates that practice software products from other suppliers are mainly designed for smaller accounting firms and do not provide many of the more sophisticated features generally required by medium to large firms."

Amazon goes live in Australia


Online retail giant Amazon has finally launched in Australia, and although the appeal to many locals is the idea of easy access to global products, Amazon is focusing on the "buy Australian" angle.

The greatest risk with AI is not moving fast enough to deploy it: Microsoft


The greatest risk relating to artificial intelligence (AI) is not deploying it fast enough in all fields of human endeavour, according to Dave Heiner, strategic policy advisor at Microsoft. "Any place [where] intelligence is helpful, which is just about every place, AI could be helpful as well," Heiner said at the Microsoft Summit in Sydney last week. "There's just no possibility whatsoever ... if AI is just being run by four or five companies, that it can possibly be deployed broadly enough." Heiner also noted that AI -- although he prefers the term "computational intelligence" -- is about "amplifying human ingenuity" in industries such as education, healthcare, and government, rather than making humans redundant. Holding a similar view, chief storyteller and GM of Microsoft AI Steve Clayton said the company is urging business leaders to "replace the labour-saving and automation mindset with a maker and creation mindset".

Big data and machine learning algorithms could increase risk of collusion: ACCC


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has provided an overview of its approach to potential future cases where machine learning algorithms are deployed as a tool to facilitate conduct that may contravene competition law.

ACCC sees NBN hope in tiny CVC increase


The September 30, 2017 edition of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) NBN Wholesale Market Indicators Report has seen the light of day, and the ACCC is welcoming what it sees as increased competition and encouraging signs in connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) growth. ACCC Chair Rod Sims latched onto the report showing the average National Broadband Network (NBN) CVC bought by retailers per users increasing from 1.09Mbps to 1.11Mbps. "This is encouraging, as provisioning adequate CVC is essential if RSPs are to ensure households and businesses can get the speeds they are promised," Sims said. Pointing to more retailers connecting to a higher number of NBN points of interconnect, Sims said it is a "clear indication" of increased competition. "Some of the small players are experiencing rapid growth, and this shows promise for future competition," he said.

Telstra confident its CVC robots can clear ACCC capacity standards


Telstra is handing the allocation and purchasing of its NBN capacity on a weekly basis, thanks to the introduction of automated bandwidth monitoring. Speaking at Telstra Investor Day on Thursday, Telstra director of networks Mike Wright said the company has known for 19 months how much bandwidth users are receiving. "Every week we're measuring the traffic on the CVC interfaces, we're applying our own statistical analysis to it, and working out what we need to buy for the next week. That goes into the network that week, and next week we do the same process," he said. "What we have done is by putting robots inside the gateways, and some physical robots, we can now measure the experience end-to-end.

Banks set to lose their last stand against Apple Pay


In a case of financial giants versus technology giant, Australia's consumer watchdog released a draft decision Tuesday indicating it would deny a request from some of Australia's top banks to negotiate collectively with Apple over mobile payments. SEE ALSO: Apple's'spaceship' campus looks like a futuristic, solar-powered fortress in new drone video "While the ACCC accepts that the opportunity for the banks to collectively negotiate and boycott would place them in a better bargaining position with Apple, the benefits are currently uncertain and may be limited," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. The saga started in July, when Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac, along with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) arguing that Apple's strict control of its hardware undermined innovation and competition in the fintech space. Currently, ANZ is the only bank out of Australia's "big four" to offer Apple Pay. The fight centred on the iPhone's near-field communication (NFC) technology, which Apple generally prohibits access to for third-party apps.

ACCC lowers backhaul pricing by up to 78 percent


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its final pricing decision for domestic transmission capacity services (DTCS), saying it will lower backhaul pricing "significantly". Under the Public Inquiry to make a Final Access Determination for the Domestic Transmission Capacity Service Final Report [PDF], short-distance, low-capacity 2Mbps services will have an average price around 13 percent lower in metropolitan areas and 22 percent lower in regional areas, while long-distance, high-capacity 100Mbps and above services will drop by an average of 76 percent in metro areas and 78 percent in regional areas. "We have seen a downward trend in commercial transmission prices in recent years, and this trend is reflected in lower DTCS pricing, particularly on high-capacity, regional routes," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said. "Because transmission is an essential input for many services, we consider that lower prices will promote competition in downstream markets and put more downward pressure upon wholesale transmission prices, particularly in regional areas. We expect that these lower prices will be passed on to end users in the form of lower prices and new, innovative services."