Aussie workers can now be paid in Bitcoin: what you missed this week

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Women and younger people have been urged to rebuild their superannuation, and ESG superannuation funds go under the microscope.

Plus, Aussie workers can now be paid their salary in Bitcoin.

Here are five things you might have missed this week.

five things aussie workers can now be paid in bitcoin

Rest goes for sustainable growth

Superannuation fund Rest has launched a low fee socially responsible investment (SRI) option, Sustainable Growth.

The option was the result of member feedback, which highlighted demand for a diversified portfolio of growth assets that exhibits environmental, social and governance investment characteristics.

The total estimated investment costs of 0.36% per annum for Rest members.

"By speaking to our members first, we gauged the importance to them of having an SRI option available, and then gave them an active role in shaping the name, inclusions and exclusions of this new option," says Rest's chief executive officer, Vicki Doyle.

"We got a sense of their priorities, and could see that for many Rest members, ethical investing is of significant importance."

Credit card providers should re-jig rewards

More than two thirds of Aussie credit cardholders believe credit card companies need to adapt their rewards programs in the face of buy now, pay later options and in the wake of COVID-19, according to research released by Citi Australia .

In response to the findings, Citi has re-launched the Premier Card, which it hopes will better cater to the post-COVID lifestyle. It features greater points-earn ratio on online purchases or discounts on at-home delivery and offers that work when we can travel regularly again, like complimentary airport lounge visits and international travel insurance.

"Our research showed that 81% of Australians think that there should not be any limits on how they spend their points, and we've tried to deliver a card that gives greater freedom to customers," says Choong Yu Lum, head of cards and loans at Citi Australia.

"We are also offering new cardholders 130,000 rewards points when they spend $4000 in the first 90 days from approval."

Women and younger worked urged to rebuild super

Data from Colonial First State (CFS) shows that a about third of its members aged under 30 withdrew almost one-third of all early super release payments during the coronavirus pandemic last year.

"For younger members in particular, now is the time to start making up some lost ground by using these contributions to rebuild their savings for the years ahead," says Colonial First State general manager Kelly Power.

Meanwhile, women's super balances have fallen further behind men, with the gender super gap to widening 18%.

The gender gap in the Australian superannuation system is a real issue that sees women financially disadvantaged. Coronavirus has pushed us back even further, creating greater urgency for solutions to the retirement realities challenging Australians, particularly women.

What does it mean to be ESG in the super industry?

Superannuation funds that subscribe to environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles collectively manage over $1.6 trillion, but this doesn't mean they subscribe to ESG equally.

Rainmaker Information, which publishes Money, examined which funds declare themselves to be committed to ESG principles, publicly state their values, are affiliated with ESG protocol groups, disclose portfolio holdings, offer proxy voting policies as well as voting records, declare their investment screens (the criteria they use when making investment decisions) and report their ESG, climate change and social impacts and carbon footprints.

The research found:

  • These funds manage a combined $1.6 trillion, equivalent to 71% of all the superannuation assets overseen by the regulator APRA;
  • Only two-thirds of ESG super funds offer specific ESG investment options;
  • Not-for-profit (NFP) funds dominate the ESG superannuation space, with more than 70% of the ESG funds being from the NFP segment.
  • While only one-third of all super funds disclose their portfolio holdings, 75% of ESG super funds practice at least some form of portfolio holdings disclosure;
  • While 90% of ESG super funds disclose the shares into which they invest the most, less than half disclose the specific properties into which they invest and only one-third disclose their bond holdings.

"While ESG investment principles are incredibly important, they do not override the super fund trustees' fundamental obligation to maximise their fund members' best interests by achieving the highest investment returns they can," says Alex Dunnin, Rainmaker's director of research.

"Super funds should adopt ESG principles because it makes them better super funds. Super fund trustees must always focus on the financial best interests of their members."

Pay me in Bitcoin

Aussie workers can now receive some of their pay in Bitcoin thanks to a new service from Australian Bitcoin payments company Living Room of Satoshi.

Through the "Wages" service, users can nominate a percentage of their wages to be converted to Bitcoin and transferred to a Wallet of Satatoshi, a free app for iOS and Android.

"Bitcoin has seen its price rise astronomically in the last 6 months, which has triggered an unprecedented buy-in from institutional investors," says CEO Daniel Alexiuc.

"We wanted to provide an option for regular folks in Australia to also join this burgeoning ecosystem and the simplest and most pain-free way is to have a small percentage of your wage converted and sent to you when you get paid."

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine and is one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.