Five money stories you may have missed this week

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Tabcorp in hot water over in-game bets, and the stay-at-home-trend shows signs of reversing for small caps.

Here are five things you might've missed this week.

One in four Aussies to gift crypto this Christmas

tabcorp five things

A survey commissioned by Crypto.com of more than 2000 Australians aged 18-59 revealed that crypto will be taking up a lot of space under the Christmas tree. Figuratively, at least.

The survey found that 26% plan to buy crypto gifts. More than half would consider buying actual coins such as Bitcoin and Ethereum as gifts; 41.8% would like to buy coin vouchers and 35.5% crypto books, while 29.2% would consider buying non-fungible tokens (NFTs) such as NFT arts, NBA top shots, Axie Infinity gaming tokens, etc.

"Australians are clearly very keen to adopt cryptocurrencies and integrate their use into day-to-day spending," says Karl Mohan, Asia-Pacific general manager for Crypto.com.

However, security of crypto remains front of mind for Aussies, with almost half (47%) of respondents indicating that they're worried about unscrupulous activity and scams.

"We are hopeful that with greater regulation imminent, and with more traditional financial institutions foraying into cryptocurrency, some of those concerns will be addressed," says Mohan.

"Security is a top priority for Australian customers, and rightfully so, given crypto is still an emerging and maturing asset class."

Going green makes financial sense

Off the back of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, comparison site Mozo has found that going green could save you $2610 across your personal finance products in the next year.

"Following the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where many Australian banks and insurers pledged to unite private finances against climate change, going green is sure to be top of mind for many Aussies," says Tom Godfrey, Mozo spokesperson.

"When it comes to reducing your financial environmental footprint, many providers have introduced green options, designed to reward the eco-conscious consumer with competitive rates and added benefits."

For instance, taking up a green home loan could save you $1,671 a year on an average $400,000 owner-occupier loan paying principal and interest over 25 years. The leading green home loan rate in the Mozo database is at 2.30%, 88 basis points below the average non-green variable rate 3.11%.

"With the property sector contributing almost a quarter of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, it's no surprise that many Aussies want to invest in sustainable homes," says Godfrey.

Tabcorp in hot water for paying illegal bets

Tabcorp has received a scolding from the Australian Communications and Media Authority for taking in-game bets on a US college basketball match.

It's currently illegal for online bets to be placed on sporting games that are already underway.

Tabcorp took 37 in-play bets, which it blamed on incorrect match information from a third party.

Then, on realising the fault, it paid out the winning bets, blaming this second mistake on a technical error.

The communications regulator said Tabcorp accepted 37 online in-play bets during a match back in January, even though it is against the law in Australia to gamble online on sporting events that are already underway.

"We know that in-play betting, such as bets on the next point in a tennis match or the next ball in cricket, can pose a very high risk to problem gamblers," says ACMA authority member Fiona Cameron.

"These rules have been in place for many years and Tabcorp has had more than enough time to put systems in place to ensure that in-play betting is not offered on local or international sports."

Stay-at-home trend reversing in small-cap space

The stay-at-home thematic within small-cap stocks seems to be fading as people eye a return to pre-COVID normality, according to Trevor Gurwich, senior portfolio manager, American Century Investments.

This shift is playing out in America's small-cap space.

"Stay at home-related stocks, such as video conferencing platform, Zoom, and home fitness names like Peloton, have had their growth momentum reduced as their growth rates slow and active fund managers reallocate their portfolios to other companies that are seeing re-acceleration in fundamentals," says Gurwich.

"Conversely, there are other global small caps companies poised to benefit from the return to normality and a face-to-face way of life.  Travel and Leisure are two such sectors that are experiencing a resurgence in growth given people are once again looking to travel and satisfy their experiential needs."

MLC set for court over insurance failures

The Australian Securities and Investment (ASIC) has filed civil proceedings against MLC for unpaid benefits, premiums being charged without notice and underpaid refunds.

The regulator claims that the alleged offences took place between 1999 and 2020 and caused $17.5 million in financial harm to more than 260,000 customers.

"ASIC claims that MLC failed to implement appropriate systems and controls to administer its insurance policies during the Relevant Period," the document states.

"These deficiencies resulted in a systemic failure to adequately administer the insurance policies, resulting in adverse consequences for insureds including the non-provision of benefits, failures to make payments and update policy definitions, and widespread consumer harm."

The regulator is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties and other relief from the court.

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David Thornton was a journalist at Money from September 2019 to November 2021. 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.

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