Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac axe ATM fees for customers of rivals

Greg Hunt and Scott Morrison welcome decision but Bill Shorten says royal commission into banks is still needed

All four of Australia’s biggest banks have decided to stop charging customers of other banks a $2 fee to withdraw cash from their ATMs.

The Commonwealth Bank was the first to announced early on Sunday the abolition of the fee, citing ongoing consumer unhappiness with it.

NAB, ANZ and Westpac followed suit on Sunday afternoon. But the fee will still apply to customers using overseas bank cards.

“We think this change will benefit many Australians and hopefully demonstrate our willingness to listen and act on customer feedback,” the Commonwealth Bank’s group executive of retail banking services, Matt Comyn, said.

NAB’s chief customer officer of consumer banking and wealth, Andrew Hagger, said all Australians, regardless of their bank, could use their ATMs and not be charged a cash withdrawal fee.

The ANZ group executive, Fred Ohlsson, said the fee would be dropped on its more than 2,300 machines from early October.

“While we had been actively working on how we provide fee-free ATMs for our customers, we have decided to remove these fees all together from October,” he said.

The Westpac consumer group executive, George Frazis, said the decision would apply to its Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA customers and particularly benefit rural and regional consumers.

“We want all Australians, whether they are Westpac Group customers or not, to benefit from one of Australia’s largest ATM networks,” he said. “We understand that the ‘foreign ATM’ fee has been deeply unpopular with consumers.”

The move led to a rare moment of praise for the banks from Scott Morrison, who claimed the move came after pressure from the government. The treasurer said that pressure would not abate.

“It is important that we continue to take action right across the full suite of issues that are needed to ensure that our banking system is stronger, is fairer, is more accountable, and is more competitive,” he said.

“We are opening our banks up to more competition. We are introducing fairer ways for people to have their claims heard and their issues dealt with by the banks.”

Reserve Bank of Australia data shows Australians made more than 250 million ATM withdrawals from banks other than their own last year, earning the banks millions of dollars.

Comyn said Australians had complained for some time about being charged fees for using another bank’s ATM.

The government minister Greg Hunt said getting rid of the $2 fee was good for consumers.

“I would urge everybody to follow the competitive lead of the Commonwealth Bank,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, who was also speaking after the Commonwealth Bank’s announcement but before the ANZ and Westpac’s, said he expected the other big banks to stop rorting their customers but said it was no reason not to hold a royal commission into banking.

“The Commonwealth Bank has finally realised that the game is up and the rort has got to stop,” he told reporters in Sydney. “Imagine how we could get better banking for all Australians if we had a banking royal commission.”

The bank is facing an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority inquiry over damage to the bank’s reputation and public standing by a range of issues, most recently allegations it breached laws to combat money laundering and terrorism funding.

Some shareholders are proceeding with a class action over the money-laundering allegations.

The no ATM withdrawal fee access applies to the 3,400 CommBank-branded ATMs but excludes Bankwest ATMs and customers using overseas cards.

The consumer group Choice has told News Corp the decision will put pressure on other banks to follow suit and drop the unpopular fees.

With Australian Associated Press


Amy Remeikis and agencies

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