Australia Technology Investing: An Overview

Australia has witnessed 27 consecutive years of economic growth, and Australia technology investing is on the rise. Here’s an overview.

The Australian tech sector is growing quickly as it continues to attract international attention.

According to CSIRO, the Australian economy is home to esteemed institutions, public systems and employment opportunities, making it ripe for investment and attracting tech talent. To that end, Australia has experienced an unprecedented 27 consecutive years of economic growth.

PwC reports that between 2012 and 2017, information and communication technology exports reached US$3.2 billion, rising at a 60 percent uptick.

Yet despite this growth, the tech sector in Australia is largely overshadowed by the nation's other export industries. Largely dependent on resources and commodities, eight out of 10 Australian exports relate to energy, agriculture or minerals.

In light of these demands, the Australian government is working with technology companies to increase efficiencies in the agriculture, biofuels and cleantech industries. For example, Digital Agricultural Services, an agricultural startup, is a company that has created software that tracks land yield and water systems and monitors rural land.

Amfora, on the other hand, is an Australian tech company that is developing innovation in creating livestock feed with new vegetable oil extraction methods.

Looking over at other verticals within the Australian tech market, several companies are driving innovation in artificial intelligence (AI), esports, renewable energy and fintech.

Notably, some US companies are seeking out investment opportunities in Australian tech stocks. Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) and Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) have invested millions in Australia's tech sector to take advantage of the opportunities in the market. For its part, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is partnering with Australia's Lendlease in a US$15 billion deal.

With international interest accelerating in Australia's growing tech sector, here's a look at the different ways to invest in it and an overview of the future outlook for the industry.

Australia technology investing: Stocks

There are a number of technology stocks listed in Australia that have witnessed strong gains this year.

As of midway through 2019, the companies below were the top performers year-to-date, according to CRN. All stocks listed had market caps between AU$10 million and AU$500 million at that time.

  • Uniti Wireless (ASX:UWL): Uniti Wireless is a broadband and wireless service provider founded in 2012. The company launched its IPO on February 13, 2019.
  • 5G Networks (ASX:5GN): Tech and telecom company 5G Networks implements cloud solutions through its 5GN platform, targeting commercial clients to adopt cloud security, backup and technical support solutions.
  • Rhipe (ASX:RHP): Rhipe is a company that helps businesses adopt cloud systems. Its cloud services include workforce outsourcing and cloud subscription licensing programs such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Dynamics.
  • Cirrus Networks Holdings (ASX:CNW): Founded in 2003, Cirrus Networks Holdings is an IT consulting firm focused on disruptive technology, risk reduction and backup solutions. Its strategy services include developing Internet of Things tactics and honing data analytics within a full-circle data management lifecycle.
  • Kogan.com (ASX:KGN): Online marketplace company Kogan.com casts a wide net across a number of retail, mobile, travel and insurance offerings. New vertical expansions in health and pets are projected for the future.

Australia technology investing: ETFs

A total of AU$16 billion was invested in Australian exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as of April 2019. The ETFs below are listed on the ASX, and they provide exposure to tech companies around the world.

  • ETFS Robo Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ASX:ROBO): Tracking the ROBO Global Robotics and Automation Index, this ETF invests in AI and robotics companies that have market caps over AU$200 million. Founded in September 2017, this ETF has a 0.69 percent management fee and 89 holdings. Among its top holdings are Hiwin Technologies (TPE:2049), weighted at 1.8 percent; NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), weighted at 1.8 percent; and Yaskawa Electric (TSE:6506), with a 1.7 percent weighting.
  • BetaShares Global Cybersecurity ETF (ASX:HACK): Requiring no minimum investment, the BetaShares Global Cybersecurity ETF has a 0.67 percent management fee and 44 holdings. It has been in operation since August 2016. The ETF tracks the NASDAQ Consumer Technology Association Cybersecurity Index, providing exposure to global cybersecurity companies. Its top holdings include Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK), weighted at 6.5 percent; Okta (NASDAQ:OKTA), with a 6.3 percent weighting; and Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW), weighted at 6 percent.
  • ETFS Morningstar Global Technology ETF (ASX:TECH): Tracking the Morningstar Developed Markets Technology Moat Focus Index, this ETF has a 0.45 percent management expense and has 34 holdings. Founded in August 2017, it is an equal-weighted ETF that provides exposure to tech stocks around the world. The index specifically is composed of companies that have good price-to-fair-value ratios. The top holdings of this ETF include Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX), KLA (NASDAQ:KLAC) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which all have 4.4 percent weightings.
  • Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF (ASX:RBTZ): Providing exposure to companies focused on AI and industrial robotics sectors, the Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF has a 0.47 percent management fee and 35 holdings. Originating in September 2018, this ETF tracks the Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index with no minimum investment required. Among the highest-weighted companies in this ETF are NVIDIA at 7.7 percent, Mitsubishi Electric (TSE:6503) at 7 percent and Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) at a 6.8 percent weighting.
  • Battery Tech and Lithium ETF (ASX:ACDC): The Battery Tech and Lithium ETF is the first ETF in Australia to track the energy storage and production sector. Since August 2018, this ETF specifically has tracked the Solactive Battery Value-Chain Index, which focuses on lithium, battery metals and battery storage companies. With 29 holdings, this ETF has an expense ratio of 0.69 percent. Top holdings in this ETF include NEC (TSE:6701) at 4.1 percent, Sony (NYSE:SNE) at 3.8 percent and FMC (NYSE:FMC) at a 3.7 percent weighting.

Australia technology investing: Future outlook

According to a report published by the Australian government, technology is set to have a pronounced impact across multiple industries in the country.

The mining industry, for example, is anticipated to benefit from digital advancements through the use of 3D printing technology, which will enable the production of spare parts on demand. Agriculture will continue to benefit as yield technology is employed at higher rates and as blockchain technology is integrated into supply chain processes.

Government support for a more adaptive education system will be central to these advancements as the sector changes rapidly and unpredictably. Small- and medium-sized business adoption will be key as well. Current barriers to tech adoption include lack of skills, poor internet access, cost and time.

The government is working with the tech industry to counter these roadblocks and strengthen the sector through introducing its National Broadband Network at affordable prices, among other policy initiatives.

Underpinning future growth, PwC notes, will be the development of a sophisticated tech workforce.

The demand for skilled workers is projected to reach 758,700 by 2023, and the cross pollination of tech and other major sectors is providing new opportunities for growth and advancement to create a sustainable advantage in the global economy.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Dorothy Neufeld, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

Don't forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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