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Fight for better banking

Media release

22 Feb2013

With a federal election looming, People’s Choice Credit Union is getting strongly behind a new nationwide campaign to improve Australia’s banking system.

“This affects everyone with a savings account, everyone with a personal loan, everyone with a mortgage,” said People’s Choice Managing Director, Peter Evers.

“We believe Australians deserve a fairer banking system. We want the federal government to put that in place, and we believe people should get on board to help make this happen.”

The campaign, called Balance Banking, is backed by powerful new research which clearly shows voters feel banking competition is a major issue which needs to be addressed.

“The research shows three out of every four Australians believe the current banking regulations provide the Big Four banks with an unfair advantage,” Mr Evers said.

“Which is precisely what we in the mutual sector – Australia’s credit unions, building societies and mutual banks – have been saying for years.

“The system needs to be improved so we can all compete fairly and thereby provide all Australians with the best products and services.”

People’s Choice, along with other mutuals, is now pressuring the government to act.

“But we need people power as well,” Mr Evers said. “The government has to know people are serious.”

Everyone is encouraged to join the campaign, led by industry body Abacus Australian Mutuals, by visiting www.balancebanking.com.au.

Consumers unaware of Multi-branding

A case in point is the practice of Big Banks deliberately using multi-branding strategies to create the illusion of independence and competition on behalf of their sub-brands.

“People who don’t want to give their business to the Big Banks often join a smaller institution, not knowing that it’s actually owned by a Big Bank,” Mr Evers said

For example, Westpac owns BankSA, RAMS, Bank of Melbourne and St George. National Australia Bank owns UBank, and the Commonwealth Bank owns BankWest.

“There is a strikingly high level of ignorance about smaller bank ownership. Almost 50% of people surveyed did not know Westpac owns St George, and there were even higher levels of ignorance about the Big Four’s ownership of BankSA, Bank of Melbourne and BankWest.

“Any acknowledgement of these relationships is usually buried in the fine print,” Mr Evers said.

“Under a fair system, the Big Banks would have to make this much, much clearer.

“At the moment it’s a legal business practice, but is it right?”

People’s Choice, Australia’s second largest credit union, is owned by its 360,000 members, and any profits it makes are re-invested in the business to further improve its products and services.

The Big Four banks – NAB, Westpac, Commonwealth and ANZ – this year posted combined profits of $25,000,000,000.

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