Commonwealth Bank’s tech innovation arm has launched a new small business app that offers Australian entrepreneurs $500 for signing up.

Backr — the latest fintech propped up by the bank’s tech investment division X15 Ventures — is designed to be a digital guide for small business owners in the first year of operation.

The app provides small business owners with a centralised platform for registration needs, invoicing and business plan formulation.

In a tech update on Tuesday, CBA chief executive Matt Comyn said the drive for digital business growth had become more apparent in the era of COVID-19 and tech innovation was a key growth area.

“Through Backr, we hope to help thousands of new digitally enabled small businesses get off the ground,” Mr Comyn said.

“This is now more important than ever given the need to drive the economic recovery.”

The app is set to launch in September with the $500 grants available to eligible businesses that register before October 31.

X15 Ventures managing director Toby Norton-Smith said the app removed the daunting process of trying to launch a new business.

He said launching great ideas into the market would be crucial once Australia emerged from the pandemic.

“Backr is a portal for aspiring entrepreneurs and microbusinesses looking to set up shop,” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has put pressure on the banking industry, which has acted as a financial blanket by pausing house and business loan repayments.

Mr Comyn said COVID-19 had accelerated the structural shift towards digital banking, particularly in home loans, of which nearly 80 per cent of CBA’s interactions are digital.

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X15 Ventures has previously provided multi-million funding to buy-now-pay-later company Klarna, in a bid to lure it to Australia to compete with Afterpay.

In the same update, the bank announced a $US10 million partnership in two technology investment funds, Square Peg and Zetta Venture Partners, to support scaling up small Australian fintechs.

Square Peg co-founder Paul Bassat said Australia had the potential to be an important player in the fintech landscape, and would likely be a strong driver in new jobs post COVID-19.

“As a result of COVID, we are going to need to produce new jobs at an unprecedented rate to ensure all Australians have employment opportunities,” he said.

“It is not just COVID impacting the economy; we are also witnessing the long-term impacts of technology disruption, which is creating headwinds and opportunities for Australia.”

Zetta Venture Partners is an American-based fund that invests in artificial intelligence companies.



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