10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Good morning!

1. Happy International Women’s Day! This morning, economists, think tanks and industry groups are calling for a pink-collar recovery built around childcare reforms, superannuation and female-targeted stimulus efforts targeted to ensure women recover from the coronavirus downturn in a stronger position than they went into it.

2. That’s because, per the Grattan Institute, women were hit hard by the recession. They were more likely to lose paid work and more likely to take on extra unpaid care, and, writes Danielle Wood and Kate Griffiths, “the long-tail impacts will further slow their glacial progress towards economic equality.” “At the peak in April, almost 8% of Australian women had lost their jobs, and women’s total hours worked were down 12%. The figures for men were 4 per cent and 7 per cent.”

3. Cash transactions in Australia are projected to fall to just 2.1% by 2024, according to payments giant FIS, which would rank it as the fourth most cashless country in the world. The transition away from banknotes and coins has only been accelerated throughout the pandemic as Australians flocked to contactless payment options and the rise of buy now, pay later platforms continued. Despite the decline, abandoned attempts to ban $10,000 ban transactions and open cashless supermarkets suggest cash won’t just disappear.

4. Gig economy platform Fiverr has introduced a subscription model in Australia, allowing businesses to work with freelancers on long-term projects. New options for three- or six-month projects differ from the individual gigs which freelancers already offer on the platform. But freelancers have been advised to approach gig economy platforms with caution, with union the MEAA warning of a possible “race to the bottom” led by programs like this.

5. Digital bank Judo has almost doubled the size of its loan book during the pandemic, as it nears $3 billion worth of lending. Releasing an update, the lender said it was filling in the ‘scandalous’ gap left by the major banks which had rejected more than a quarter of loan applications last year. “This is of serious concern not just to SME business owners looking to grow and employ more Australians, but for the economy more generally at a time when we should be doing all we can to create jobs and get the post-pandemic recovery under way,” chief financial officer Chris Bayliss said.

6. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company could soon have an update about Cybertruck production. The forthcoming Ford F-150 competitor will be built near Austin, Texas. Trucks are key profit centres for competitors like Ford, to which Tesla is already beginning to lose ground.

7. While we’re on Elon: he’s definitely no longer the world’s richest person. The magnate’s wealth dropped $US27 billion in the first week of March amid a selloff in Tesla stock. EV stocks across the board had a rocky week after surging at the beginning of the year.

8. The US Senate approved a $US1.9 trillion stimulus bill after a marathon series of votes. The 50-49 vote fell along party lines, and no Republican supported the legislation. It would provide $US1,400 stimulus payments for most taxpayers, $US300 weekly federal jobless aid through early September, fund vaccine distribution and testing, expand the child tax credit, and distribute money for state and local governments.

9. NFTs are digital assets exploding in popularity and value right now. David Pakman is a VC backing NBA Top Shot, one of the most successful mainstream NFTs. He told Business Insider that the popularity of NFTs will continue growing and major brands will create their own. “I’m sure you’ll see Star Wars, Harry Potter, all super popular global IP,” will eventually get into digital collectibles, he said. “Those brands have touched hundreds of millions of people,” he notes, and as long as they have internet access they’re all potential customers.

10. Miss him yet? Donald Trump will come back to social media by the end of spring, top advisor Jason Miller said Saturday. Miller told Mediate that Trump’s return “will be a tectonic plate shift in the world of social media.” He’ll most likely be on alternative platforms as opposed to Twitter or Facebook, Miller said. Wonderful!