Commonwealth Bank’s Group Executive for Business Banking, Mike Vacy-Lyle, last week attended the SmallBiz Week Business Leaders Luncheon in Melbourne, providing a keynote address alongside the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Bilson

While small businesses continue to face a variety of challenges, Mr Vacy-Lyle said in his keynote address that the ongoing growth and success of the small business sector is helping to drive the nation’s economic recovery after COVID.

“Small businesses truly are the backbone of the Australian economy, representing more than 95 per cent of all businesses, employing around 45 per cent of all Australians, and accounting for approximately 35 per cent of our economic output. While the pandemic has affected all facets of our economy and community, I know small business – particularly those here in Melbourne –  weathered extraordinary conditions to stay afloat.”

During Bruce Bilson’s presentation at SmallBiz Week, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman said COVID had brought about a quiet renaissance in entrepreneurship. 

Strong momentum into the new financial year

Despite ongoing challenges facing the small business sector – including inflation, supply chain issues, and interest rate increases, Mr Vacy-Lyle said Australia has plenty of positive momentum.

“Our CBA credit and debit card data shows spending is up, with in-store purchases recovering even as on-line spending remains strong. While there are headwinds hitting Australian businesses, there is also a renewed sense of optimism across the business community. I am confident in the bright future ahead,” Mr Vacy-Lyle said.

And it isn’t just consumer spending that is showing signs of improvement. Mr Vacy-Lyle said business investment looks set to grow and public sector capital spending has remained strong in Victoria and NSW.

The tools businesses need to succeed

“There are two key areas that we’re focusing on right now,” said Mr Vacy-Lyle. “The first is giving small businesses faster and easier access to funding. The second is reimagining the digital experience for our small business customers.

“For example, last year we launched Stream Working Capital – a digital solution giving businesses faster and more flexible access to cash flow using their outstanding invoices as loan security. The loan size reduces automatically as invoices are paid, so customers never pay for credit limits they don’t need. Digital end-to-end working capital is a first for a major Australian bank.

“And we’re investing in providing the best merchant offering with our new Smart terminals in market, and new, tailored apps on the terminals to allow merchants to personalise their payments experience in sectors such as hospitality, retail and healthcare – to better meet their own needs, and the needs of their customer

“My focus for my team is on mobilising capital for small business and going beyond just traditional banking to providing unique, new digital offerings that help businesses to do business.”