The initiative announced earlier this week by Prime Minister Scott Morrison is aimed at pushing businesses to go digital and expand opportunities to grow and create more jobs.
The announcement has met approval across a range of sectors, including banking, accounting and software. According to CA ANZ senior tax advocate Susan Franks, the move is particularly important for the 2 million small businesses that are often crippled by high regulatory burdens of reporting data multiple times to different regulators.
“The bushfires and pandemic have shown the importance of having accurate, up-to-date information to ensure that those adversely affected can be identified and assisted by government,” Ms Franks said.
“With reductions in JobKeeper payments, rent and loan holidays or deferrals expiring, real-time data from the digitalisation of business is essential to survival in today’s economic conditions.
“Given there are over 250 business registers across government, this is a good start to an economic marathon.”
Xero small business advocate Angus Capel said the announcement highlighted the nation’s digital capabilities has become as fundamental to its future as investing in the physical infrastructure of roads and rail.
“Small businesses, with a heavy use of apps, have experienced revenue falls one-third smaller and job losses 40 per cent smaller than other businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Capel said.
“Nearly one-third of businesses were planning to adopt more digital tools to help run their business if the federal budget outcome was favourable.”
Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh said the new digital plan is a major step forward that will modernise the way Australians do business and deliver significant benefits to consumers.
“COVID-19 has highlighted century-old regulations slowing business down,” she said.
“These changes will make banking faster and easier.”
Small businesses looking towards digital empowerment
According to the most recent GoDaddy Global Entrepreneurship Survey, the primary focus for over half (52 per cent) of Australia’s small businesses is on improving their digital skills, while over one in four (27 per cent) are budgeting more money for building an online presence.
The research also found that two-thirds (65 per cent) of Australian small businesses now have a website — up from 39 per cent in 2019 — and half (49 per cent) have registered a personal domain to act as the hub of their business identity.
Further, with digital skills as the foundation, 82 per cent of small businesses expect to have recovered fully within 12 months, while almost half (44 per cent) expect to “grow rapidly” in the next three to five years.