ACCC proposes to reauthorise ATM sub-network fee free agreement

18 June 2014

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has proposed to reauthorise an agreement between members of the FeeSmart ATM sub-network to not charge each other’s cardholders a fee for transactions at ATMs owned by members.

Since 2009, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s reforms to Australia’s ATM system meant that customers can be charged directly by ATM operators for withdrawals. Most banks do not charge their own cardholders for withdrawals.

The reforms also enabled sub-networks to operate where financial institutions charge each other for their cardholders' transactions, rather than charging the cardholder directly. This provides cardholders of smaller financial institutions with access to direct fee free transactions at a wider range of ATMs.

"The proposed arrangements assist in addressing the competitive disadvantage that FeeSmart members might otherwise face in providing ATM services to cardholders compared to the big banks," said ACCC Deputy Chair, Dr Michael Schaper.

The current FeeSmart members are Cashcard, Qantas Credit Union, Southern Cross Credit Union, Macquarie Securitisation, Bank of China and Gateway Credit Union. FeeSmart members currently offer cardholders a network of over 4,100 ATMs.

Authorisation provides immunity from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.

Further information about the application for authorisation is available on the public register.

The ACCC is now seeking submissions on the draft determination.

Release number: 
MR 148/14
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