On 1 February 2024 the ACCC issued a determination granting a minor variation to the Australian Banking Association’s authorisation to allow changes to certain minimum requirements of basic bank accounts offered to low-income customers under the Banking Code. The Banking Code will be amended to provide that basic bank accounts will have access to the customer’s choice of a widely accepted debit payment method offered on their basic bank account, including a debit card, rather than only a widely accepted debit card.

On 21 November 2019 the ACCC issued a determination granting authorisation with conditions for 5 years to enable the Australian Banking Association and its current and future members to implement, in the 2019 Banking Code, recommendations made in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry relating to informal overdrafts, dishonour fees, and default interest charged on loans secured by agricultural land. The authorisation also related to certain minimum requirements relating to basic bank accounts.

The 2019 authorisation was granted subject to conditions which required the ABA to, among other things, report data relating to low-income customers’ use of low- or no-fee bank accounts (basic accounts).

On 3 December 2020, the ACCC agreed to the ABA’s request to vary the reporting conditions. In doing so the ACCC took into account new information about the accounts offered by various banks (including that some banks offer only low- or no-fee accounts), and about the availability of data showing how frequently low- or no- fee accounts held by low-income customers have become overdrawn. The ACCC determined that the conditions as varied would provide it with the information required to assess whether the new provisions of the Banking Code had resulted in benefits to the public as intended.

Authorisation, as varied, will remain in place until 12 December 2024.

Further information about the ACCC’s decision is available on the ACCC’s public register at: Australian Banking Association - basic bank accounts.