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Complaints mount over ASIC Business Name Register: ASIC admits it is plagued by delays and “technical errors”

feature-asic-200The move in May from a state and territory based system of registering business names to a national system is something that makes sense in theory.

A national system certainly cuts down on duplication of resources and provides a central reference point for all businesses. However, the new system has raised the ire of business owners who are experiencing problems registering and transferring business names.

The Australian Securities and Investment Corporation National Business Name Register has been described as a “nightmare” system for businesses who have vented their frustration at new requirements for transferring names and privacy concerns surrounding the requirement for a physical address which is displayed on the register.

We’ve set out businesses key concerns below and gone to ASIC for a response:

1. Delay

Businesses have complained of severe delays in accessing the website for the business name register and in getting through to ASIC on the phone, which a spokesperson for ASIC told SmartCompany is the result of “strong demand”.

“In the past two weeks, we have received close to 900 applications each business day (and several hundred over the weekend) and, while this number is high, the large majority of applications are 'straight-through' registrations with just 12% needing further ASIC review,” the spokesperson says .

“So, in the majority of cases, our customers are receiving an immediate confirmation that their application has been submitted and if they elect to pay online with a credit card their record of registration is emailed to them, usually within 24 hours.”

The spokesperson says ASIC is still receiving “high call volumes” to its client contact centre and says the regulator “apologised for any delays”.

“It is our highest priority to improve the service and assist customers in the meantime," the spokesperson says.

SmartCompany asked ASIC whether there was a backlog of applications causing the delays and resulting in the high rate of 900 names a day being registered.

ASIC did not respond to this question. However, the spokesperson confirmed over 40,000 business names have been successfully added to the new national register.

2. Website glitches

Businesses have also reported glitches on the business name register website.

SmartCompany reader James Omond commented on SmartCompany’s recent story on the registration system, saying he is “not happy” with the failure of the system’s capability to start a registration and then save it for later.

“When you go back in to complete the registration, if the connection to the ASIC site drops out, it can "lose" your pending application,” he says.

“When you try to start again, the system says someone else has already applied for that name, even though that someone else is you.”

ASIC’s spokesperson acknowledges the register is experiencing some technical errors.

“We have previously acknowledged that a small group of customers have reported a technical error when trying to register a business name and we are working as quickly as we can to fix any reported problems,” the spokesperson says. 

“We encourage applicants who are experiencing difficulty to email a dedicated address so we can investigate any technical problems as quickly as possible or make alternative arrangements to urgently complete registration applications while the issue is being rectified.”

Cara Waters

SmartCompany editor

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Cara Waters is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.
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