The future of online advertising is big data and algorithms

From The Conversation.

The challenge facing advertisers and advertising professionals is remaining relevant in the face of a fundamental technological change. Namely, algorithms and big data.

The combination of the two, in the form of automated and real-time buying and selling, is redefining the advertising business model and value proposition.

Advertising is now a world of software, ultra-high-speed networks and processing power, statistics, optimisation, operations research, heuristics, data science and a range of related disciplines all coming together in dealing with large volumes of rapidly changing data.

How advertisers adapt will define their viability in the new world of online advertising. Period.

The trends marrying data and advertising

A number of interconnected trends are coming together to make this world of data.

Over 40% of the world’s population now has access to the internet. This is both a large market for advertisers to go after and a huge source of data. But the explosive uptake of smartphones has also brought on a large number of first-time internet users – fresh eyes for advertisers – and there are many more to come.

Global technology platforms, such as Google and Amazon, Facebook and LinkedIn, have created huge pools of data and made it all useful. Simply put, big data is data that’s too large or complex to be effectively handled by standard database technologies currently found in most organisations. But these platforms, among others, enable the data to be analysed and useful information extracted.

Historic data is also a potential gold mine in the right hands. It offers insights into industry trends and buying behaviours over time. Correlating historical data with “new data” can lead to the development of predictive models, also useful for advertising.

It’s not just the data we willingly give over to Facebook and LinkedIn that is useful, but behavioural, demographic, geospatial and other metadata as well. We are all leaving digital footprints each time we interact with the internet.

The global volume, velocity and variety of this data is astounding. This data, and the real-time insights and patterns that can be extracted from it, is the basis for tomorrow’s digital alchemy.

There is also a growing daisy-chain of intermediary organisations that harvest, analyse, interpret and offer up precisely targeted advertising services, all in near real time. At every stage, advertisers and intermediaries are clipping the ticket as they take their cut for being involved in the overall management of the torrents of data generated by us and fed back to us in the form of targeted advertising.

Putting it all together

Finally, there’s the rise of programmatic advertising – the real-time and automated buying and selling of ads with algorithms, bringing together many of these trends. There are now huge online marketplaces where software buys and sells advertising space.

Many of the ads you encounter around the web are now programmatic, allowing advertisers to target who sees an ad, based on this increasing array of data. This allows advertisers to predefine criteria for their ads – only showing them to Australians at a specific point in time, for instance.

As the internet transitions from an “open” and ostensibly free network to one that is ubiquitous and highly monetised, advertising is being catapulted into a new paradigm. The sheer value and growth of the online advertising market is reshaping the entire advertising industry, and the rate of change is not slowing.

The fundamental concepts of advertising remain unchanged. That is, to present the concepts, products and services of the advertiser that connects sellers with potential buyers.

What has changed, however, is that the advertisers (and sellers) must be able to harness the arsenal of real-time measurement and placement tools to focus their efforts with pinpoint accuracy and minimal cost. Being able to make use of big data, analytics and algorithms isn’t just “nice to have”, it’s essential.

Welcome to a new world of online advertising.

Author: Rob Livingstone, Fellow of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, University of Technology Sydney

ACCC takes action against Aveling homes over online review websites

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Aveling Homes Pty Ltd (Aveling), a Perth-based home building company, for alleged misleading conduct and false or misleading representations.

The alleged conduct is in relation to review websites Aveling created for its businesses, Aveling Homes and the First Home Owner’s Centre.

The ACCC alleges that Aveling created review websites that represented they were independent of Aveling, and that the appearance, layout and features gave consumers the overall impression that they were affiliated with an independent third party consumer review website, Product Review, when this was not the case.

The ACCC also alleges that the review websites were deliberately managed by Aveling to ensure a favourable overall impression, by obscuring or removing unfavourable reviews.

“We believe the potential for harm from the conduct alleged in this case is significant, as buying or building a home is one of the biggest purchasing decisions for Australians,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“Online reviews are increasingly being relied on by consumers and they should be able to trust that those reviews are independent, unbiased and accurately reflect the range of consumer feedback received.”

The ACCC also alleges that Aveling’s marketing manager, Sean Quartermaine, was knowingly concerned in Aveling’s conduct.

The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, injunctions, corrective notices, a compliance program, findings of fact and costs.

Background

Until 1 February 2017, Aveling also operated the brand ‘First Home Owners Centre’.

The ACCC’s allegations concern conduct and representations made on four Aveling websites:

www.aveling-homes.com.au (link is external) (the Aveling Homes website);

www.avelinghomesproductreviews.com.au (link is external) (the Aveling Homes review website);

www.firsthomeownerscentre.com.au (link is external) (the First Home Owners Centre website); and

www.firsthomeownerscentreproductreviews.com.au (link is external) (the First Home Owners Centre review website).

This is the second action taken by the ACCC in relation to online reviews. In November 2016, the ACCC instituted proceedings against Meriton Property Services Pty Ltd https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-takes-action-against-meriton-over-online-reviews

Figure 1: AvelingHomesProductReviews.com.au (as at 11 June 2016)

How Facebook and Google changed the advertising game

From The Conversation.

Creativity and spectacle are becoming less important than the personal information used to target ads. The sponsored links on a Google search or in your Facebook feed are very effective, but for a completely different reason than your favourite television commercial.

When you think about advertising what comes to mind is probably the art. Memorable ads are often creative, clever or emotional. Something along the lines of a big, viral Australian beer ad, or maybe something from the Super Bowl.

These ads had a symbiotic and reciprocal relationship with the media they played alongside. Big sporting events or television shows draw a certain audience, and advertising agencies created a spectacle to match. This isn’t the game anymore.

Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising

According to Jason Kint, CEO of digital content industry group Digital Content Next, Google and Facebook captured all of the US$32.7 billion growth in digital advertising spending in the first half of last year. Everyone else’s share shrunk by 3%.

Kint’s estimate came after earlier predictions by Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak that some 85% of new ad spend in 2016 would be split between these two companies.

Google and Facebook both make money by pairing user-generated content and personal information with advertising.

Google’s search engine serves sponsored results alongside other results in response to user search queries. Content posted by users on YouTube is often preceded by ads that mimic many of the traditions of television ads. Google-hosted display ads also appear on non-Google websites.

Facebook uses information users have given it, such as age, gender, relationship status and location. The site uses this to display ads from advertisers seeking to target people by specific characteristics.

Although they both use some of the same social signals, it is often a slightly different process: Facebook has monetised personal data, while Google has monetised activity.

‘The internet of you’

Unlike earlier forms of advertising that were targeted to generalised audience segments by broad demographic characteristics, the forms of advertising used by Google, Facebook and their competitors are more precise.

They use specific activity (such as searching for a term like “hotels”) or status information (changing a relationship status to “engaged”) to find people most likely to be interested in chosen ads.

More recently, data generated in a more passive way – from going about daily activities like travelling to work or cooking meals – are also added to our searches and what we post on Facebook. This information is collected through in-home and wearable devices like Google Home and mobile phones.

All of this data generation and collection leads to personalisation, or what wearable device maker Jawbone calls “internet of you” – “technology tailored to you, with your own data driving the experience”.

Hosain Rahman, CEO of wearable devices maker Jawbone, says internet-connected devices should be “organised around you”.

Ads are precision targeting

The personalisation and precision of these new ads are changing the nature of advertising. It’s no longer about entertaining, delighting or making a personal connection; it’s about precision targeting.

It is easy to imagine gyms seeking new clients by targeting those who have shown search interest in getting fitter, enabled by online tracking, but what about using step-counting devices to promote those shoes to someone who has actually started walking just a little more?

These are the kinds of data-supported advertisements of the “internet of you”.

Such strategies pose difficult ethical questions about privacy and personal information as users may have consented to the data use without actually reading or understanding long and complex terms-of-service documents.

These approaches also upend a common and understood – although widely criticised – approach to funding internet content with display ads. As the media theorist Douglas Rushkoff put it:

We are not the customers of Facebook, we are the product. Facebook is selling us to advertisers.

But on the “internet of you”, users may find they are both the customer who purchased a product and the target of a secondary customer (an advertiser) who bought their data.

What this means for advertising

With Facebook and Google dominating, many other web publishers are at a loss as to what to do. They find it difficult to find the “right solution to the big question of driving payment for quality content”, as the founder of the website Medium recently put it.

In an end-of-year update for marketers, Google highlighted the biggest issue in this new world – trust. Companies “must find ways to reassure consumers and position their brands as trustworthy”.

One way to create engaging and trustworthy advertising is by showing an interest in what customers already care about, which is helped by knowing as much about them as possible.

However, if users find precisely targeted ads creepy or feel unable to trust the devices in their homes and on their bodies, they may push back against marketers that deploy them. That would force ad makers to look once again to content that works alongside the media it funds.

Author: Travis Holland , Lecturer in Communication and Digital Media, Charles Sturt University

NAB Ventures backs San Francisco payments fintech

National Australia Bank’s (NAB) venture capital fund, NAB Ventures, has led an investment round in San Francisco-based foreign exchange payments company Veem.

Veem (formerly known as Align Commerce) provides a platform that leverages blockchain technology for cross-border business to business payments, enabling organisations to send and receive payments in local currency.

NAB Ventures General Partner Melissa Widner led the series B funding round totalling USD 25 million, which also included investments from GV (formerly Googles Ventures), American VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Silicon Valley Bank and Japanese fund SBI Investment Co. Ltd.

“Technology in the global payments and foreign exchange space is evolving rapidly as customers identify new platforms to help them do business quickly and easily,” Ms Widner said.

“We identified Veem as a market leader in both technology and business model. This investment forges a close relationship with the company that will provide insights into user expectations of where technology is heading for cross-border payments.

“We’re excited to be working with Veem; their platform provides customers with a great user experience, low fees, fast clearance and great transparency.

“As Australia’s largest business bank, we’re continually looking at services that have the potential to make life easier for our business customers,” said Widner, who will join the Veem board following NAB Ventures’ investment.

Veem CEO and Co-Founder Marwan Forzley said: “At Veem, we understand even ‘mum and dad’ businesses must embrace globalisation to compete with incumbents, grow their businesses and innovate.

“Unfortunately, the current international payments experience is fundamentally broken, stifling SMBs’ globalization efforts. Veem’s platform creates an experience that is as simple and frictionless as the current process is cumbersome and frustrating.”

Randy Komisar Partner, Kleiner Perkins said: “We’re excited to be investing in Veem, along with a number of other high calibre funds from across the globe, including NAB, who impressed us with the way they managed and led this funding round. Business to Business foreign exchange payments is undergoing massive change and we’re looking forward to working alongside all of the other investors in Veem, including NAB, in the future.”

The deal is NAB Ventures third investment, following announcement of a stake in Sydney startup Data Republic last year, along with seed investment in health tech Medipass Solution in February.

See Veem’s media announcement here: https://veem.com

Why ‘digital gold’ won’t ever kill off the real thing

From The Conversation.

In investment terms, a safe haven is exactly what it sounds like: a place of relative safety when times are tough. Traditionally, safe haven assets have been physical, such as gold and silver, the US dollar and the Swiss Franc.

More recently, Bitcoin, and other intangible assets, have been entering this discussion. An example of the latter would be one of the many gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETF), which are shares of gold holdings listed on a stock exchange, a financial claim, or US and German government bonds.

But can these intangible assets really replace the tangible? What changes as our society becomes increasingly digital?

Let’s use gold as an example. Gold is a real and tangible asset, similar to currencies but unlike stocks, government bonds, virtual currencies and other financial claims. Gold is also durable with an effectively infinite longevity and thus completely different to any other asset.

These are the aspects that give gold its prominent position as a safe haven, and they are precisely what the likes of Bitcoin lack.

Real safety versus financial safety

Safe havens provide safety like a harbour does for boats against rough seas. The harbour does not protect the boats against all risks, but provides some protection against storms and big waves.

The question when it comes to intangible assets is whether this same kind of safety can be provided by something that is not real and tangible. In other words, could an insurance contract (a financial claim on an event) provide similar relative safety as gold? The answer is no.

An insurance contract can compensate for a loss, but it does not avoid the actual loss. The loss must be incurred and suffered first, and the compensation is only paid subsequently, with a delay. In other words, whilst the loss is immediate, the compensation is not.

A real safe harbour, in contrast, provides immediate safety and avoids a loss in the first place, i.e. the boat is not destroyed and lost in the rough seas of the ocean but it is protected by the harbour. This loss-avoiding feature may be particularly important if the asset also has some intangible features that can neither be valued accurately nor be fully compensated. Think of something like a unique painting.

Additionally, the insurance contract does not only fail to avoid the loss in the first place, it may also fail to pay any compensation if the issuing company is in financial trouble or bankrupt. This “counterparty risk” is always there but may be large in times of financial stress and uncertainty, and thus when the safe haven feature is needed the most.

Tangibility and durability

We know from behavioural finance that humans do not always act rationally in a strictly financial sense. Some of these decisions are linked to elementary desires, such as the want to possess something that is tangible and additionally signals status and wealth.

Gold has often been referred to as a relic. But from a behavioural perspective, this may also mean it is ingrained in our subconsciousness and related actions. Put differently, as long as humans remain tangible, it is likely that they maintain a desire to hold real and tangible assets.

Very few companies on the US stock exchange, for example, are older than 50 years. By comparison, gold has existed for thousands of years and any gold coin or gold bar will most likely outlive any company and their stocks and bonds. Put together, it is unlikely that a company that sells claims on gold, such as a gold ETF, will beat physical gold’s longevity.

So if you have the choice of physically holding gold coins and bars or buying a financial claim on gold, only the former is providing you with all the benefits of a safe haven.

There is another aspect to this physicality. While the stock market is a great invention, allowing investors to buy fractions of companies (buying a few shares rather than the entire company, for example), this was never a problem with gold. Gold is highly divisible, able to be manufactured and purchased from as little as a few grams right up to 12.5 kg gold bars. The main reason for not holding physical gold is the cost of storage, but this cost does not necessarily outweigh the counterparty risk alluded to earlier.

The horror scenario

Imagine there is a systemic shock that triggers global stock markets to fall by 15% within a couple of hours. You can’t access your online brokerage account immediately as the website is down. And by the time you can, the markets are in free fall and you would lose a third of your wealth if you sold some of your holdings.

It’s in this situation that tangible assets really come into their own. Your real and tangible assets – your gold coins and bars – will still be there and accessible. Trade in them can’t be halted by a company or an exchange, they can’t easily be seized or cancelled by a desperate government, and they don’t rely on a third party (such as an insurer) being able to pay.

Gold and silver will long outlast any of that. The tangible will provide you with some relief.

Author: Dirk Baur, Professor of Finance, University of Western Australia

CBA Card Holders Will Be Able To Close Accounts On Line

CBA says CommBank customers will soon be able to close their credit card account online in real time giving them even greater control over their financial wellbeing.

In an Australian first, CommBank credit card customers will be able to close their credit card account online in real time giving them even greater control over their financial wellbeing. The fully digital experience will enable customers to close their credit card using the CommBank app or online without the need to go into branch or speak to our contact centre.

Clive van Horen, Executive General Manager Retail Products and Strategy, Commonwealth Bank said this is proof of the bank innovating to help customers have more control of their finances.

“Online credit card closure is another step on the path to providing customers with greater control of their financial wellbeing. We introduced Lock, Block, Limit in 2014 to provide customers with extra security and convenience at their fingertips, in real time. Last year we added spending caps and real time credit limit decreases. Next month customers will receive instant transaction receipts on their phones.

“Soon customers can go online to close their credit card at a time that suits them, simply with the app or NetBank,” Mr van Horen said.

Since launch more than one million cards are using “Lock, Block, Limit” through the CommBank app and NetBank, with this number increasing by around 5,000 each week.

“We are continuing to innovate and giving more control to credit card holders,” Mr van Horen added.

The real time, online credit card close feature will be available to customers later in 2017

Standards Australia releases Roadmap for Blockchain Standards

Standards Australia has released its Roadmap for Blockchain Standards.

The Roadmap is designed to: identify the various technical issues associated with developing, governing and utilising blockchains and Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT); identify blockchain and DLT use-cases relevant to Australia; and prioritise the order of standards development activities that could be undertaken in the development of blockchain standards by ISO/TC 307 Blockchain and electronic distributed ledger technologies.

Standards Australia facilitated the development of a Roadmap for Blockchain Standards between November 2016 and February 2017. The work represents a key component of Standards Australia’s role in supporting the development of a collective Australian position on blockchain standards priorities and contributing to the establishment of industry, consumer and market confidence in the use and application of blockchain technologies.

The report was produced as a result of a series of consultations held in 2016 and 2017 which enabled industry, consumer, academic and government stakeholders to identify and priorities the relevant international standards that may be required to support the broad use and application of blockchain and DLT.

The report explains the methodology and process used by Standards Australia to develop a Roadmap for Blockchain Standards. It highlights the critical role Australia will have in leading international efforts to develop blockchain standards under ISO/TC 307 Blockchain and electronic distributed ledger technologies.

Blockchain has the potential to support efficient and secure real time transactions across a large number of sectors. From enabling efficient and accurate financial services to providing visibility along the supply chain, and from streamlining government services to delivering confidence in identity accuracy to consumers,blockchain and DLTs have the capacity to revolutionise the way we do business.

For many Australians and global stakeholders the key to utilising blockchain technologies is contingent upon the performance of the systems. While economic efficiencies, improvements in standards of living and increased access are just some of the benefits of applying blockchain technologies, there is a broad community expectation that an appropriate legal and standards framework will be developed in order to establish market confidence.

The work included a survey of Australian government, industry, academic/research and consumer organisations. More than 100 responses to the survey were received. The finance sector was well represented.

Within the financial services sector, there is potential for use of blockchain technologies to support:
• Digital Currencies
• Trade Finance
• Remittances
• Commodity Exchange
• Other transactions
Use Cases need to be developed.

The survey also identified propriety government services which might leverage blockchain. Land Transfers and Property Titles rated the highest.

Fintech Disruption Continues Apace

The latest edition of the Financial Services Disruption index is released today. It measured 40.16, up 5.52% from last quarter.

The Disruption Index tracks change in the small business lending sector, and more generally, across financial services. The Financial Services Disruption Index, which has been jointly developed by Moula, the lender to the small business sector; and research and consulting firm Digital Finance Analytics (DFA).

Combing data from both organisations, we are able to track the waves of disruption, initially in the small business lending sector, and more widely across financial services later.

Highlights this time include:

  • Non-bank SME lenders are becoming more mainstream, with 14.1% of the surveyed population now familiar with the options available from this segment of lenders. Compare this 4.2% at the same time last year, we see a significant 230%+ increase. However, in number terms, we are talking about roughly 300,000 businesses now aware (up from less than 100,000), so there is sizeable upside for those willing to shake the market up and be relevant for the ‘engine room’ of the Australian economy.
  • The gulf between SME loan assessment expectations and banks’ loan assessment execution is growing, with continued downward pressure on expected turnaround times. The latest survey indicates 5.4 days expected assessment turnaround… requiring significant bank process replumbing to meet those types of targets.
  • Businesses data provisioning is now commonplace and the early fears around security of login credentials and ‘what will they do with my data’ appear to be receding.
  • Ease of process (loan applications completed in a few clicks) and speed of assessment appear to be the catalysts here. In the last quarter, 80%+ of all businesses starting a loan application moved on to provision some form of electronic data.
  • Moula continues to execute loans in, on average, 29 hours.  Loans to more complex business structures, such as trusts, impact on the average loan processing speed due to additional compliance-related processes.  Loans to more simple structures such as sole traders and companies are typically executed within 12 hours of the initial application.
  • Business confidence rose in borrowing SME’s especially in eastern states of NSW, VIC and ACT. Less strong in SA, TAS and QLD. There has been a strong fall in WA thanks to the end of the mining boom, and second order impacts across other industry sectors there.

 

YouTube Users Now Watch 1 Billion Hours Per Day

YouTube’s reliance on algorithm-driven traffic expansion continues as it reaches views of 1 Billion hours per day, as reported in ZeroHedge.

In a dramatic confirmation of the relentless growth of online video, at the expense of the agonizing, slow death of conventional TV, YouTube said that its worldwide viewers are now watching more than 1 billion hours of videos a day, on pace to eclipse total US TV viewership over the next few years, a milestone facilitated by the Google aggressive embrace of artificial intelligence to recommend videos. By comparison, Americans watch 1.25 billion hours of live and recorded TV per day according to Nielsen, a figure that has been steadily dropping in recent years. Facebook and Netflix said in January 2016 that users watch 100 million hours and 116 million hours, respectively, of video daily on their platforms.

According to the WSJ, YouTube surpassed the “psychological” figure, which was far higher than previously reported, late last year. Indicatively, in 2012 when Google started building algorithms that tap user data to give each user personalized video lineups designed to keep them watching longer, users spent 100 million hours on its platform, a ten-fold increase in under five years, growing at a pace of roughly 200 million hours per year. Of course, what makes YouTube so unique, is that a vast majority of the content is crowdsourced: feeding the AI recommendations is an unmatched collection of content: 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute, or 65 years of video a day.

What is surprising is that despite YouTube’s massive size, it remains unclear if it profitable. Google’s parent Alphabet doesn’t disclose YouTube’s performance, but people familiar with its financials said it took in about $4 billion in revenue in 2014 and roughly broke even. Like most of its social network competitors, YouTube makes most of its money on running ads before videos but it also spends big on technology and rights to content, including deals with TV networks for a planned web-TV service. When asked about profits last year, YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki said, “Growth is the priority.”

Get cash without a card using your mobile.Meanwhile, in a near-monopolistic synergy, YouTube benefits from the enormous reach of Google, which handles about 93% of internet searches, according to market researcher StatCounter. Google embeds YouTube videos in search results and pre-installs the YouTube app on its Android software, which runs 88% of smartphones, according to Strategy Analytics.

That has helped drive new users to its platform, and the statistics are staggering: about 2 billion unique users now watch a YouTube video every 90 days, according to a former manager. In 2013, the last time YouTube disclosed its user base, it said it surpassed 1 billion monthly users. YouTube is now likely larger than the world’s biggest TV network, China Central Television, which has more than 1.2 billion viewers.

A recent adjustment to the YouTube algorihms helped:

 YouTube long configured video recommendations to boost total views, but that approach rewarded videos with misleading titles or preview images. To increase user engagement and retention, the company in early 2012 changed its algorithms to boost watch time instead. Immediately, clicks dropped nearly 20% partly because users stuck with videos longer. Some executives and video creators objected.

Months later, YouTube executives unveiled a goal of 1 billion hours of watch time daily by the end of 2016. At the time, optimistic forecasts projected it would reach 400 million hours by then.

YouTube retooled its algorithms using a field of artificial intelligence called machine learning to parse massive databases of user history to improve video recommendations. Previously, the algorithms recommended content largely based on what other users clicked after watching a particular video, the former manager said. Now their “understanding of what is in a video [and] what a person or group of people would like to watch has grown dramatically,” he said.

And while it hardly needs it, YouTube’s reliance on algorithm-driven traffic expansion continues: “last year YouTube partnered with Google Brain, which develops advanced machine-learning software called deep neural networks, which have led to dramatic improvements in other fields, such as language translation. The Google Brain system was able to identify single-use video categories on its own.”

Meanwhile, per just released research from the EIA, according to the latest Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) the number of TVs in active use per US household is declining: an average of 2.3 televisions were used in American homes in 2015, down from an average of 2.6 televisions per household in 2009.

As shown in the chart below, the number of homes with three or more televisions declined from the previous survey conducted in 2009, and a larger share of households reported not using a television at all. Televisions and peripheral equipment such as cable boxes, digital video recorders (DVRs), and video game consoles account for about 6% of all electricity consumption in U.S. homes.

The study also found that entertainment and information devices vary by age: younger households tend to have a lower concentration of televisions per person and a higher concentration of portable devices such as laptops.

The good news: the slow death of corporate-owned, legacy mainstream media continues; the bad news: it is being replaced by the hyper-corporate Google and FaceBook, which in recent months have decided to put on the mantle of supreme arbiters of what is and isn’t considered “fake news.”

Prospa Seeks $500m in SME Loans After Raising

From Smart Company.

Small business lender Prospa is gearing up to hire an additional 100 employees in its next stage of expansion, after this week securing a $25 million cash injection in what is believed to be the largest fintech venture capital investment in an Australian business.

The 2016 Smart50 winner says the investment round, led by Australian venture capital firm AirTree Ventures, will shore up the company’s ability to dominate the small business lending landscape on its path to writing more than $500 million in loans.

“It’s a great story for Australian VCs, and really just cements the general market awareness of how Australia can build great tech companies,” co-chief executive Beau Bertoli tells SmartCompany.

Prospa will be using the funds to further develop the technology side of the business, and with several new projects on the go, Bertoli says the funding injection will also allow the business to keep investing in people.

“It does require a lot of people—the costs are going to be in hiring, we’re going to be looking to hire about 100 over the next year. We’ve put a lot of thought and planning into it this year—it’s not the first time we’ve tried it,” he says on hiring big cohorts of staff at once once.

The Prospa platform, which allows small businesses to apply for unsecured loans of up to $25,000, launched in 2011 and previously raised $60 million in capital in September 2015.

The lender has written more than $250 million in loans, and recorded revenue of $22 million for the 2016 financial year. The current valuation of the business is $235 million, says Bertoli, and while that’s a “substantial” number for an Australian fintech operation, he believes there’s still plenty of room to grow.

“We’ve got a really long way to go,” he says.

“It all comes back to the customer problems, and they can all use capital at different times.”

Prospa has developed a number of strategic partnerships with the likes of Westpac and Mortgage Choice, but Bertoli says the company’s connection to smaller operations has also contributed significantly to its growing the loan base.“We work with around 4,000 partners around Australia, from Westpac to small little accounting firms,” he says.

“That gives us access to well over half of Australia’s small business customers. We’re able to work with lots of [those partners] and get access to their customers.”