Big Four banks scrap ATM fees

The ‘Big Four’ Australian banks yesterday announced that they will no longer charge customers withdrawal fees at their ATMs across the country.

Gone are the days of being charged $2 to use another bank’s ATM, as customers can now use almost any automated teller to withdraw cash, fee free.

The foreign ATM fee was one of the most unpopular fees among Australians.

Yesterday morning, CommBank announced it would scrap the fee, with ANZ, Westpac and National Australia Bank following suit in the afternoon.

“We have been listening to consumer groups and our customers and understand that there’s a need to make changes that benefit all Australians, this is one of the steps we’re taking to make that happen,” said Matt Comyn, CommBank’s Group Executive of Retail Banking Services.

“We know ATM fees are one of the most unpopular and while our customers have benefitted from our network of ATMs across the country, this is another example of acting on customer feedback as well as genuine reform from the industry,” said ANZ Group Executive Fred Ohlsson.

“We know it has been frustrating for them to be charged to withdraw their own money from an ATM, and the change we are announcing today will benefit millions of Australians,” said NAB’s Chief Customer Officer Andrew Hagger.

Last year, there were around 250 million withdrawals made in Australia, meaning the banks now stand to lose around $500 million.

The Federal Government was quick to claim credit for the fee cut, with Treasurer Scott Morrison saying it was government pressure that led to CBA’s decision.

“The Turnbull Government has been working hard to ensure bank customers get a better deal and this is further evidence we are getting results,” said Mr Morrison.

The Opposition said the move to cut fees was a result of it calling for a banking royal commission.

Martin North from Digital Finance Analytics said the banks’ decision did not come as a surprise, as this type of revenue was down anyway and that the banks’ move to dump fees was a chance to capitalise on a failing model.

“There’s no doubt that the volume of transactions through ATMs is falling as more and more people are paying for things by cards, swiping and those sort of things,” he said.

“It’s yesterday’s banking model … the future is all about mobile payments and it’s about pay and go and so perhaps there was always going to be a decrease in the revenue from this source.

“Maybe it’s about picking the time to try and make a bit of a splash about it.”

Opinion: Fee scrap a desperate move to regain favour

The banks’ scrapping of ATM fees may at first glance seem as if they’re doing us a favour, but the reality is that for years they’ve been charging us to withdraw our own money.

Sure, an ATM is a handy way to access cash without having to deal with a teller. But these ATMs also keep a bank’s overheads down, just not our costs.

And let’s not forget that we already pay around $4.4 billion in bank fees each year.

Think about it. The banks use our money to make record profits each year for their shareholders and pay multi-million dollar salaries to their executives. And once any profits go to those ‘up on high’, very few of us ‘down here’ actually see any real dividends.

Then consider the reports rolling in almost weekly about bank misconduct, money laundering, misrepresentation and unpaid worker’s superannuation.

Bill Shorten is right – it’s a rort.

No wonder then that millions of Australians have, in the past three years, jumped ship from one bank to another. It’s obvious that we’re becoming fed up with this racket.

Isn’t it time we had a banking royal commission? Aren’t you tired of the smoke and mirrors? Don’t you wonder how banks can charge higher fees whenever they feel like it, sack staff willy-nilly, increase rates, keep high credit interest rates stagnant and basically get away with financial fraud and aiding and abetting (albeit ‘unknowingly’) organised crime? To whom are the banks answerable? It seems no one or nothing.

The move to scrap ATM fees, while appreciated, is a sad attempt to curry favour from an increasingly disaffected, constantly confused, repeatedly ripped off and often disappointed customer base.

But hey, we’ll take it.

Are you happy to be paying less transaction fees? Will this favourably affect your bottom line? Do you think it’s a bold move or are the banks capitalising on something we shouldn’t be paying for anyway? Is either political party to be credited for this move?

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