Jul 16, 2013
Sydney, July 15th 2013 - A new initiative by the banking industry will make it easier for low-income customers to find a better basic bank account.
The Australian Bankers' Association (ABA) has today launched a new website - 'Affordable Banking' that lists all the basic bank accounts to help eligible customers shop around for one of these transaction accounts.
Steven Münchenberg, Chief Executive of the ABA, said: "The banking industry believes that banking should be affordable for all Australians - for disadvantaged and low-income customers, that means access to basic bank accounts with a wide range of fee-free features."
"Many banks have offered a basic account for some time, but community and consumer groups advised us these accounts don't always provide the features customers need to conduct their banking transactions. They have also told us that information about these accounts can be hard for customers to find, or customers may not be aware that they may be eligible for one of these accounts."
To address this, the ABA's Affordable Banking website lists all the accounts it has identified from member banks that have the following features, which the ABA and community and consumer groups have identified are desirable in a basic bank account:
- no account keeping fees;
- free account statements (monthly or frequency as selected);
- no minimum deposit amounts;
- the ability to set up and cancel direct debits;
- no overdrawn fees;
- ability to access a debit card at no extra cost;
- free and unlimited transactions through all of the following banking channels - branch, telephone banking, Internet and mobile banking, EFTPOS, and bank-owned and networked automatic teller machines (ATMs) across Australia.
The ABA's website will also allow customers to check if they are eligible for a basic bank account and the names of the accounts and the banks that offer these accounts. Typically, a basic bank account is available to eligible customers who qualify for a concession card issued by the Government such as a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. Some banks also offer transaction accounts with no monthly fees and generous transaction limits to all their customers. If customers believe they are entitled to a basic bank account, they should talk to their bank or another bank that offers a basic bank account.
Mr Münchenberg said: "Providing better basic bank accounts to disadvantaged and low-income customers to ensure these customers have an account so they can receive their government benefit payment and transact, is just one measure the banking industry has in place to improve the accessibility of affordable banking. Other measures include financial literacy programs, matched savings schemes and micro-credit products."
"There is a competitive marketplace for basic bank accounts and these products have improved over the years. The ABA's website will be updated to reflect any changes, for example, if new basic bank accounts are offered or if any account features change," he said.
To assist with promoting awareness, the ABA is also publishing the 'Basic Bank Account Information Paper' - www.affordablebanking.info/informationpaper which was prompted by community and consumer groups advising the banking industry that more information was needed about the basic bank accounts.
Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker