Banking & finance

Interim approval to Banking Code changes following Royal Commission

The ACCC has granted interim authorisation to allow the Australian Banking Association (ABA) to take immediate steps to make certain changes to the Banking Code of Practice.

These changes come in response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Hayne Royal Commission).

The interim authorisation allows member banks to agree not to charge default interest on loans secured by agricultural land in drought or natural disaster declared areas.

Charges laid against alleged forex price fixing cartel

Criminal cartel charges have been laid against a money transfer business and five individuals for allegedly fixing the Australian dollar / Vietnamese dong exchange rate and fees they charged their customers.

The charges arose from a joint ACCC and Australian Federal Police investigation into alleged price fixing by several Sydney and Melbourne money transfer businesses. The charges relate to exchange rates and transaction fees charged when sending money from Australia to Vietnam between 2011 and 2016.

Rules Outline

The Rules Outline sets out the ACCC’s current position on the CDR Rules, which are expected to be published for consultation in the first quarter of 2019. The Rules Outline is intended to provide guidance to stakeholders, including designated data holders, potential data recipients and consumers, on what the rules will require of CDR participants.

Lack of transparency stifles mortgage price competition

The opaque, discretionary pricing of residential mortgages by banks makes it difficult and time consuming for borrowers to shop around and stifles price competition, a report by the ACCC has found.

The ACCC’s Residential Mortgage Price Inquiry monitored the prices charged by the five banks affected by the government’s Major Bank Levy between 9 May 2017 and 30 June 2018.

Submissions received

The ACCC released an issues paper in October 2018, seeking views and experiences from a variety of stakeholders, including consumers, consumer advocacy groups, small businesses and suppliers of foreign currency conversion services.

ACCC commences inquiry into foreign exchange

Sending money overseas, and buying foreign cash, will be the focus of a new ACCC inquiry into foreign currency conversion services.

“Whether you’re buying Euros from your bank for an upcoming trip, sending money to family in Indonesia, or you’re a small business trading with suppliers in New Zealand, foreign exchange services are used by Australians every day,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.