CBA invests in future of online shopping: What you've missed this week

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Consumer banks move to protect data privacy, and Commonwealth Bank invests in digital shopping platform.

Here are five things you might have missed this week.

Consumer groups back data sharing

five things pineapple project cba little birdie

Consumer advocate Financial Rights Legal Centre believes the government should reverse its proposal to automatically opt Australians in to data sharing, as proposed under the Consumer Data Right and Open Banking regimes.

Under the Treasury proposal, joint account holders will be automatically opted in to sharing their personal financial data when one of them begins open banking. To prevent the sharing of data, users would manually have to opt-out.

Financial Rights CEO Karen Cox says the government's proposed "opt out regime" for Open Banking data sharing flies in the face of our right to affirmative consent.

"This proposal contradicts basic privacy principles already set out in the Consumer Data Right," she says.

"Treasury's proposal undermines the privacy rights of citizens and subverts the Open Banking regime's own requirements to provide Australians with the ability to voluntarily and expressly consent to the sharing of their data with other parties."

ME Bank charged

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has filed criminal charges against ME Bank over its redraw clawback, following an ASIC investigation.

The ASIC report claims ME Bank breached the Credit Act by failing to notify customers at least 20 days before a repayment charge was made. ME Bank customers were not notified of reductions to their redraw limits, with the balances switched into mortgage accounts.

The breaches are alleged to have occurred between September 2016 and September 2018.

In a statement, Bank of Queensland, ME Bank's new owner, said: "We are aware of the alleged contraventions of financial services law which have been made against ME Bank.

"They relate to matters which were covered in our due diligence of ME Bank and these matters were dealt with in negotiations with the sellers about warranties and indemnities."

CBA backs Little Birdy

CBA ploughed $30 million into e-commerce start-up Little Birdie, which is slated to go live mid-June.

Little Birdie will be an artificial intelligence-based shopping website where customers can search, compare and purchase over 70 million products. The platform will be linked to CBA's banking app.

"Little Birdie will bring customers the best shopping deals from across the internet and will help to connect our 7.5 million digitally active customers with our 700,000 business partners," says CBA CEO Matt Comyn.

The Pineapple Project

ABC's money podcast The Pineapple Project, with new host comedian Nazeem Hussain, is back for Season 6. It's all about ways consumers can spend less, spending better, and understanding why we buy things in the first place.

Topics include fashion, pets, travel, cars, phones, food and at the gym.

"It's like getting a pay rise without having to do anything!" notes the show's website.

Earlier seasons of the podcast tackled the life-changing magic of doing a budget, why you need an emergency fund, and developing good work habits.

You can listen for free on the ABC listen app, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Going cashless

Countries the world over are fast adopting cashless payment, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The move to a cashless world was already underway, says the report, but COVID-19 sped it up. In 2020, only about 72% of respondents believed that their country was likely to become a cashless society; but that grew to over 81% this year.

The past year also saw governments experiment with central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and companies are experimenting with accepting open-source digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, for treasury or portfolio allocation.

"Only a few years ago there seemed to be very little commercial or popular support for even the idea of a digital currency and within the past year, we've seen several governments announce new plans to create digital versions of their currencies," says  Jason Wincuinas, the Economist Intelligence Unit editor.

"It's like a new space race on that level. At the same time, we've seen interest and trust in cryptocurrencies grow among consumers. Now that we've added perspective from some of money's heaviest users-corporate treasuries and institutional investors-we have a more comprehensive view of how digital currencies might evolve."

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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.