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I am pleased to share that we have achieved another breakthrough regarding the criteria for JobKeeper. If you are post-revenue and have suffered from the crisis, then please, please, please make sure you have registered as JobKeeper is for you!

The first tranche of alternative eligibility tests for the JobKeeper programme have now been signed into law. Full details are available on the ATO website:

I’ve put together a summary of the three categories that would most likely apply to you:


Businesses that commenced within the prior 12 months will qualify for JobKeeper if their turnover has declined by 30% compared to…

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30 March 2020. Over the last few weeks, Stone & Chalk has submitted a range of submissions to the Australian Government to improve support to the innovation industry. Some of these submissions were in train prior to the current COVID-19 crisis. However the crisis has prompted a more urgent review of the sector — it is no longer about strengthening the sector but now more about survival and recovery. We are urging the Government to recognise that irrespective of the challenges we face, strong employment growth comes from companies driving higher complexity to achieve better supply chains.

Australian Innovation Collective

Stone & Chalk is a key member of The Australian Innovation Collective which has been formed urgently to allow the innovation ecosystem to speak with one voice to Government. This is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. …

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Dr Rob Pearlman, Stone & Chalk Sydney resident and founder of Medapps has some thoughts he’d like to share on COVID-19.

First, some definitions. The disease is called COVID-19, and the virus is called SARS-CoV-2 (SARS like coronavirus 2). It shares many similarities to the SARS virus, but is a bit less deadly (SARS was close to 10%), trading this attribute for higher infectivity, which it achieves by having a bit longer incubation & slightly less symptoms — fever was common in all SARS cases, but only appears in about 77% of COVID-19 cases.

As you all know, the Government’s response has escalated significantly over the weekend of 14–15 March 2020, implementing many measures that will affect our lives for a while. …

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Stone & Chalk Melbourne-based cryptocurrency startup, Elbaite, was founded in 2017; enabling Australians to exchange cryptocurrency with fewer fees, more trust and control, and better trade conditions.

Their exchange platform is the first in the world to combine fiat escrow with blockchain verifications and support for multiple blockchains, allowing for direct Peer-to-Peer (P2P) and secure trades.

We chatted with Elbaite’s Founder Mortaza Tollo, and mentor Rod Tasker, whose strong background in financial consulting made him a perfect match for Mortaza and Elbaite. They explained the company’s success story and how S&C’s in-house mentor program is helping Elbaite move forward.

How Elbaite works

Elbaite is a peer-to-peer exchange platform for traders to directly buy and sell cryptocurrency safely and securely. P2P transactions not only reduce fees but more importantly increase safety and security for the end-users. …

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For the typical commuter, catching public transport does not spark joy. Whether or not you’re elbowing your way through the masses to hop on a bus, or getting stuck behind someone who has insufficient funds on their transit card.

To ensure a seamless journey, Littlepay has been building a world-class open loop transit payments system for both operators and commuters via contactless EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) since 2016.

We sat down with Amin Shayan, CEO of Littlepay, based at Stone & Chalk Melbourne, to find out how their transit-focussed payments platform works. The startup has now enabled 80 different bus operators across the UK, Ireland and Scotland.

Amin says, “When Transport for London enabled contactless EMV payments in 2014, it was a watershed moment as the first major city to show that this could be done at scale. Today, over 50 per cent of all London transport tickets are purchased with a bankcard instead of the old Oyster card.”

“It’s been a huge success, and it’s a great customer experience. I go to London, tap my phone or my bank card on the gate, and go through. No need to buy a card, top up, download an app, or any of that. Just use your existing bank card and travel,” he says.

Although, the London transport system isn’t perfect, Amin says it’s headed in the right direction by trying to simplify the adoption of contactless payments using any bankcard.

Before diving into the world of fintech, Amin worked in investment banking.

Amin explains, “The traditional payment rails were designed for retail, not transit. In retail, you know the value of what you’re purchasing, and can wait a few seconds for the authorisation of the payment to come back and confirm you have funds. The size of the transaction is also usually large, so the fee structures of payments are not an impediment.”

Transit is a different story. For one, you don’t know the final value when you tap — often there are complex fare rules to be applied as to whether a transaction is capped, zoned or discounted. You can also only wait 300 milliseconds between commuters or you end up with a logjam. Additionally, the average values are small, creating the need to aggregate payments to reduce the number of settlement charges to the Merchant.

Littlepay are at the helm of solving these technical problems by creating a flexible, API-based platform, which enables the components of the transport system to be unbundled, and loosely coupled. This gives the operators choice and flexibility.

Currently Littlepay is Stone & Chalk’s largest tenant in Melbourne. Amin says, “It’s been really great being in the innovation hub. Since being here, hiring talent has become a whole lot easier as they love the dynamic space, strong community and the overall vibe.”

“We’re always on the lookout for good developers, and are proud to be one of the few startups in Australia that can provide end-to-end exposure to payment processing. …

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At Stone & Chalk, we believe that mentors are critical to the success of startups. We chatted to Allen Clennar, former Standard Chartered Bank CEO, about his mentor experience with mentee Simon Costello, Co-Founder and CEO of Frankie Financial. Frankie Financial is a fintech providing banking infrastructure to power financial institutions including neobanks.

ALLEN: I met Simon through the Mentor Program, but we had actually spoken briefly before. Stone & Chalk suggested that given my banking background, it might be worthwhile for me and Simon to connect.

For me, a mentor is someone that you can bounce ideas off in times of need and get a sanity check or another view point. No one’s got all the answers so it can be helpful to get a fresh perspective. I was very impressed that Simon had already been successful with two other startups. He inspires confidence, is articulate and well connected.

A lot of companies will struggle when it comes to the fundraising side. On this particular round, Frankie sailed through. They captured a VC, a High Net Worth Individual from Melbourne; and even I invested. …

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Co-Founders Barbara Sharp and Tim Offor, based out of fintech innovation hub Stone & Chalk Melbourne, are no strangers to conflict resolution. Between them, they have more than 30 years’ experience in crisis communications for some of the region’s highest profile scandals.

The peacemakers, Barbara and Tim, founded regtech startup Pax Republic in 2014 embedding all their know-how from their consulting days to create an anonymous digital platform inbuilt with AI and deep linguistic analysis to uncover the deepest issues lurking beneath workforce culture.

Their C-Sight anonymous online platform enables employee voice on business-critical issues, so that company leaders can hear the real truth about how their strategies are landing for their workforce.

Following the aftermath of the Royal Commission into Banking, Superannuation & Financial Services, Barbara explains Pax Republic offers a solution that gets people into a virtual room where people can have focused, facilitated discussions. This leads to collective intelligence being extracted for the sole purpose of better corporate decision-making based on rich data insights.

Barbara lights up when explaining the capabilities of the technology, “We provide forums to understand what’s really going on inside an organisation. …

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Insight Data Solutions’ Co-Founders, Louie Psaroulis and Mike Thanos, know that you’re fascinated with property. Between the two of them, they’ve got over 50 years’ worth of experience in the valuation and mortgage industry. They are now using that expertise to power the next generation of property valuation solutions.

By combining unparalleled accuracy and speed embedded within their technology, Mike and Louie are taking their services across borders, with Mike situated in the Melbourne hub and Louie working out of Stone & Chalk Sydney. …

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Whether we like it or not, we all have some form of digital footprint. Whether it be on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Ebay, Uber, Paypal or Airbnb. It all says something about us and can be used to extract insights about who we are.

Repute Digital captures, by permission, digital footprints of people transacting with an organisation spanning credit card payments, insurance, lending, recruitment, property management as well as the sharing economy. The purpose being to provide insightful data to customers so they can better validate an individual’s identity, assess risk and therefore customise their service and product offerings.

David Griffiths, Founder of Repute Digital, who has held senior positions at Optus, Symantec and HTC, jumped out of the corporate world seven years ago and pioneered the solution to help businesses leverage available identity based data.

David explains, “Our lives are now so entrenched in the digital landscape. It’s ultimately reflective of who we are, our ‘digital DNA’. It might exaggerate certain aspects, but whether we like it or not, we are all leaving breadcrumbs which form our digital footprint.”

“In a world where we still use our date of birth and or address to validate our identity, it’s becoming harder to fake your digital identity and reputation given the breadth and depth of our interactions online.”

Today, we are also now seeing our earned reputation influencing the service levels and user experience we receive. For example, being told by an Uber driver that you’re lucky they picked you up as they usually don’t pick up people with a rating of 4.5 and below. …

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Melbourne Stone & Chalk resident Frankie Financial is solving the largest problem in the banking and financial services industry: legacy systems. How? By bringing together all the essential pieces of building a fintech: ID verification, eKYC, AML compliance, fraud prevention and credit tools, all within a single vendor agnostic technology platform.

Today, several companies battle with dozens of siloed software and data providers, none of which talk to each other, causing clunky, disjointed internal processes, poor customer experience and business intelligence.

Sitting down with Simon Costello, Co-Founder and CEO of Frankie Financial explains what they do, “We digitise tasks that were previously performed by human professionals, allowing the business to programmatically enable data-lead decisioning, removing the risk of human error and increasing the efficiency of the operation.”

Simon reflects on the journey that led him to create Frankie Financial, “I had been living abroad for the last 10 years. I started my career in investment banking in the UK and then moved into the startup world around the time when the more well-known neobanks were launching in the UK. …


Stone & Chalk

Stone & Chalk is Australasia’s leading nonprofit technology innovation hub in Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide.

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