Telstra payphones now free to use: What you've missed

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Payphones become free phones, and NAB rolls out finance for Islamic businesses.

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

NAB rolls out Islamic banking

telstra pay phones free

National Australia Bank (NAB) is set to launch a financing product structured for Islamic businesses.

Interest is generally forbidden under Islamic law for being exploitative. The idea is that a 'rich' lender is exploiting a 'poor' borrower, because the net transfer of funds is from the poor to the rich.

To overcome this concern, NAB has created products where 'rent' and 'service fee' are paid instead of 'interest'.

"There are some really interesting structural elements that we negotiated to finalise this latest offering in order to ensure that we comply with Australian federal and state tax laws and at the same time remain true to Islamic principles," says Dr Imran Lum, director of Islamic Finance in NAB's Deal Structuring and Execution team.

"We're looking forward to further opportunities to roll out this financing product, which is designed to cater for transactions over $5 million for commercial property development and construction purposes."

NAB's Islamic Financing contract proposition follows a five-year program which has integrated an Islamic legal framework into NAB's Standard Finance Agreement.

The social media influence

Social media is changing the way Australians spend and manage money, according to research from UBank.

On average, Aussies spend $500 a month or $6000 a year on discretionary items through social media and apps.

That works out to a massive $118 billion every year.

"COVID restrictions have not only changed the way we live but how we spend and make purchases. Australians are finding new avenues to part with their cash using apps on their phones and devices," says UBank CEO Philippa Watson.

"More surprisingly, it's men who are spending more on average each month in areas like clothing, dining out, entertainment and gadgets."

Men are forking out an average of $602 each month and women, $400.

A fifth of Australians also reported that social media has had a positive impact on the way they manage their money. Millennials (35%) are more likely than all other generations to attribute social media to improved financial management.

"While we know young people love social media and apps, it's encouraging to see some positive money management behaviours resulting from these channels," Ms Watson says.

Free payphones

You could now call them freephones.

Telstra announced that all local and national calls to standard fixed line numbers and calls to standard Australian mobiles on Telstra's 15,000 public payphones are now free.

Payphones in Australia date back to the 1880s, but have seen their numbers halve with the advent of the mobile phone.

"Even in the age of the smartphone they play such a critical role in our community, particularly in times of need, and particularly for those in need," says Telstra CEO Andy Penn.

According to Penn, last year alone Australians made 11 million calls on payphones, including more than 230,000 calls to vital services like Triple Zero.

"I know payphones are also a lifeline for thousands of vulnerable Australians - the homeless, the isolated, those escaping domestic violence - and often provide their only link to critical support services and those that care about them."

Stay at home cash for Victorians

Victorians who have to isolate due to the state's latest COVID-19 outbreak could be eligible for $1500 cash payments.

"Anyone who needs to isolate as a positive case is eligible for a $1500 payment if there's no alternative source of income to you to support people isolating safely," says Victoria's COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar.

"We have 10,000 people already isolating as primary close and secondary contacts. If anyone on the list needs support, please get in touch with us."

You can apply for the payment via Services Australia.

Those who need to isolate to while awaiting a COVID test result are eligible for $450. Applications can be made via the department of job, precincts and regions here.

ETPs grow despite performance

Australia's exchange traded products (ETP) market reached $115 billion in funds under management at the end of June 2021, but according to Rainmaker Information only a small portion of the growth is due to performance.

The research found that 70% of the $50 billion growth came from net flows and products converting from unlisted unit trusts or forming a hybrid structure. That leaves the remaining 30% due to performance.

International equities dominate the sector with more than $59 billion invested in international equities products, while the diversified ETP sector only makes up 2% of the market.

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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.