Australian banks drop ATM fees

Australian consumers will no longer face charges when using another bank’s cash point after the country’s four major banks dropped ATM withdrawal fees for domestic users amid greater regulatory scrutiny for the industry.

CBA, the country’s largest lender which has 3,400 branded ATMs across Australia, said it would no longer charge withdrawal fees on Sunday. ANZ, Westpac and National Australia Bank followed suit, dropping the A$2 ($1.59) charged to customers of other banks for using their machines.

Australians made 259m withdrawals from ATMs belonging to banks other than their own in 2016, according to data from the Reserve Bank of Australia, equating to around A$520m in withdrawal fees. Overseas cards will still be charged.

The country’s Treasurer Scott Morrison told local media on Sunday that he welcomed the move and said the government is working to open banks to further competition and fairer ways for customers to have their claims heard.

The move comes after a series of scandals in the industry ranging from poor financial advice to failure to pay out on life insurance policies that have highlighted alleged rule-breaking by Australian banks. Australia’s banking regulator has ordered an independent inquiry into CBA following a raft of scandals, including allegations of money laundering, at the lender.

Mr Morrison on Friday gave details of draft legislation for the Banking Executive Accountability Regime to strengthen accountability in the banking system and hold banks’ senior executives to higher standards of behaviour. Under the new powers, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, the nation’s bank regulator, would be able to “more easily disqualify accountable persons” and “ensure that banks’ remuneration policies result in financial consequences for individuals”.

CBA shares were down 0.9 per cent in afternoon trading in Sydney while NAB shares dipped 0.1 per cent. Westpac and ANZ were up 0.5 per cent and 0.2 per cent…

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