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Acorns micro investment app arrives in australia to invest spare change in the stock market

AN APP designed to invest your spare change in the stock market will officially launch in Australia today, automatically buying stocks with money rounded up from your daily coffee purchases.

But Acorns, which describes itself as a micro investing platform, is already being used by thousands of Australians and has become the seventh most popular financial app in Apples App Store after it quietly appeared last week.

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Acorns Australia managing director George Lucas said the app could prove more popular in Australia than the US, as Australians were more smartphone-savvy and willing to use them to transfer funds or pay for goods.

Were getting over a thousand people signing up a day, Mr Lucas said.

Before we launched in Australia, we put up a website to register interest and we got 22,000 email addresses without even trying.

The unusual financial app was created by a father and son team, Jeff and Walter Curttenden, in 2012 to entice first-time investors to the stock market.

The finance app works by letting users invest spare change money rounded up to a dollar from everyday transactions into their choice of exchange-traded funds.

If you bought a coffee for $3.40, for example, the app could round that figure up and invest 60c into your Acorns investment choice.

There are other ways to invest money using the app, including one-off or recurring payments, but Acorns global director Colton Dillion said its Round-Ups feature captured the most attention.

Its something people already do, Mr Dillion said. They throw money into the cup by the bed and theyll wait until its a large enough amount to buy dinner with it.

Australia is the first country outside the US to receive the app, which is now available for Apple iOS and Google Android devices, and Mr Lucas said he expected Australians to use it for investment outside superannuation or a brokerage account.

Youve got to remember Australia, even though were a small part of the world in terms of GDP, were the fourth largest fund management country in the world, he said.

Australians are much more smartphone-oriented than in the US and we do a lot more electronic payments, whether its transfers between friends or tap-and-pay when you buy in a shop. The US, technology-wise in financial services, is years behind Australia in that regard.

To use the app, which is registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, users must enter their personal and bank account details, and the Round-Ups feature can be used with a credit or debit card.

The app can round up amounts and invest them in $5 increments automatically, or when the user chooses.

Users can choose from one of five stock market options, from a conservative portfolio targeting a return of 4.6 per cent to an aggressive portfolio aiming to attract 7.5 per cent growth.

While the app is free to download, Acorns will charge accounts with less than $5000 $1.25 a month, with no fees for withdrawing funds, or .275 per cent per year for accounts over $5000.

Mr Dillion said it was a strategy that had already seen the company invest more than $100 million on our customers behalf.

Not every Australian who signs up for the service may be counted as a user at this early stage, however. Users with no money invested in Acorns do not attract the companys monthly fees, and less than half of those who registered in the US funded their accounts.

Also, while management fees for the service are low, instead relying on the scale of the companys overall investments, Acorns monthly $1.25 fee could represent a large portion of a small, spare change investment.

Australian education union nt branch president jarvis ryan disappointed with federal budget

THE Australian Education Union has given the Federal Budget a fail mark.

AEU NT branch president Jarvis Ryan said the Budget, which includes $17.6 billion for schools, was disappointing.

It contains a provision for a funding increase of $1.2 billion from 2018 to 2020, while Labor has committed to an extra $4.5 billion over two years.

Mr Ryan criticised the lack of detail in the Budget.

The real problem is we cant see how its going to breakdown state-by-state and we cant see how its going to be split between public and private schools, he said.

He slammed the Governments plan to tie teacher salary to performance as idiotic.

Its a policy thats fraught with problems. Its disastrous, he said. Were a collegial profession. When you try to isolate what a particular teacher does for a student, it becomes very, very difficult and its a highly divisive process.

An extra $10.5 million over four years will be channelled to reduce the prevalence of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education chief executive Michael Thorn said the funding was welcome but fell well short of what was needed to make a significant dent in the incidence of FASD.

Mr Thorn said the money would help FARE establish a clinical network to roll out a new diagnostic instrument.

But doing so would leave little of the shoestring budget to devote to prevention measures. Its about a third of what weve advocated for, he said.

In my view, theres been a failure to recognise how important getting that prevention message out there is.