Pocketbook budgeting app closing down


Zip folds Pocketbook app, telcos to block SMS scams, and gender pay gap nudges $1 billion weekly. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

Zip calls time on Pocketbook app

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider Zip is shutting down its popular money management app Pocketbook.

pocketbook budgeting app closing down

Zip paid $7.5 million for Pocketbook in 2016, and despite claiming to have 800,000 users, the app isn't proving as profitable as hoped.

The closure of Pocketbook reflects Zip's change of strategy as the broader BNPL market faces the headwinds of rising bad debts and intense competition.

At the same time, Zip and fellow BNPL provider Sezzle have scuppered plans for a merger.

As a sign of the sector's woes, Zip's shares have plummeted from a high of almost $13 in early 2021 to trade at just 50 cents at the time of writing.

Sezzle investors don't have much to celebrate either with the company's share price sitting at 20 cents, down from around $9 this time last year.

New rules to fight SMS scams

SMS scams account for one in three reported scams so far this year, and have left their victims over $6.5 million out of pocket.

But consumers no longer have to go it alone.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has put new rules in place requiring telcos to identify, trace and block scam SMS messages before they reach our phones.

The new rules also require telcos to share information about scam messages with other telcos and report identified scams to authorities.

ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin says the initiative will build on the success of the 2020 Reducing Scam Calls industry code that tackled scam phone calls.

It saw almost 550 million scam phone calls blocked in the first 16 months, which O'Loughlin says led to "a dramatic drop in scam call complaints".

Gender pay gap nears $1 billion per week

A new study by KPMG, the Diversity Council Australia and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows the national pay gap between men and women is estimated at $966 million per week or $51.8 billion annually.

The report - aptly named She's Price(d)less - found gender discrimination remains the leading driver of the pay gap, followed by caring for family, and the type of job or industry a woman works in.

KPMG Chairman, Alison Kitchen said, "Since our last report in 2019, the gender pay gap has remained stubbornly unchanged despite action across the public and private sector to tackle gender inequality."

It follows recent research by Federal Treasury experts, which found women can experience a 55% hit to their income in the five years after the birth of a child owing to reduced working hours and/or time taken out of the workforce to raise a baby.

Even women who continue to work can cop a 5% drop in income following motherhood.

Refinancing set to boom as homeowners defend against mortgage pain

As mortgage holders scramble to adjust household budgets following three consecutive interest rate hikes, one in five are lining up to refinance their home loan according to a Finder survey.

Finder's Sarah Megginson, says, "Households are in a very precarious position right now struggling with the worst cost of living crisis in decades. For some, it's a case of refinance or default on their debt. "

Refinancing has the potential to take the heat out of home loan repayments, but it can take time to make the switch.

If you think you'll struggle with mortgage repayments at higher rates it's critical to contact your lender early - certainly before a payment falls due.

"You might be eligible for a repayment holiday, an interest-only period or a hardship repayment plan," says Megginson.

Take the pedal off the metal this tax time

Chances are you're champing at the bit to get your 2021/22 tax return sorted and pocket a juicy tax refund.

But it can be worth holding off a little longer.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) says the stakes can be high for July lodgers.

Tim Loh, ATO Assistant Commissioner, says, "People who lodge in July are twice as likely to have their tax returns adjusted by the ATO."

It's not just about eager beavers being more likely to make a mistake.

Information from employers, banks, government agencies and health funds is automatically loaded - or 'pre-filled' into personal tax returns.

The problem is that this information, which covers wages, health insurance and interest from banks, often isn't ready until the end of July or early August.

"Waiting for the ATO to upload information means it's less likely an amendment will need to be made later, which could result in a tax debt," Loh says.

To check if pre-filled information is available and confirm if your income statements are 'tax ready', visit the ATO app or log in to ATO online services through myGov.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.