The ACCC is calling on banks, bank customers and other interested stakeholders to share their views on competition and consumer issues affecting retail deposit products.
An issues paper, published today, poses questions and seeks submissions on areas that the ACCC will consider in its retail deposits inquiry, including how banks set their interest rates.
“The vast majority of Australian consumers have at least one savings, transaction, term deposit or other retail deposit account, and collectively Australians hold over $1.45 trillion in retail deposit accounts,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.
“For many Australians, the interest earned on these accounts is an important source of income, and consumers are understandably keen to ensure they are receiving a good return on their savings.”
Over the past 12 months, the Reserve Bank of Australia has increased the cash rate target from 0.35 per cent in May 2022 to 3.60 per cent in March 2023 in response to high and rising inflation.
While banks have generally increased variable rate home loans interest rates in line with the cash rate increases, increases to the savings interest rates that banks pay their customers have often been smaller or conditional.
The ACCC will be considering how banks have adjusted their rates for deposit accounts following these changes to the cash rate target, including the use of introductory and other conditional interest rate offers.
“We are eager to hear about competition and consumer issues affecting the supply of retail deposit products to Australian consumers and self-managed super funds. This inquiry will closely examine how banks make decisions on interest rates, and any barriers consumers face in getting a better deal”.
The Inquiry will also examine how interest rates of similar products vary between consumers depending on the amounts deposited, whether they are new or existing customers, whether they hold other products with the same bank or if they belong to a particular demographic.
“We also want to hear from consumers and consumer organisations about experiences in searching for and taking up retail deposit products, including any impediments consumers face in switching banks to get a better deal,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.
Key issues the ACCC is seeking feedback on include:
- how banks and other authorised deposit-taking institutions set their rates on retail deposit products
- how their approaches differ from rate setting for credit products, such as home loans
- the role of deposits in their overall funding mix
- consumer information and switching.
The inquiry will also be considering how banks and other financial institutions compete with each other, and the potential for entry by new competitors. The ACCC also seeks views which are relevant to understanding and assessing the nature and extent of this competition.
In conducting this inquiry, the ACCC will consult closely with financial regulators, including the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
The ACCC is calling for submissions by 19 May 2023. Submissions can be made by emailing email@example.com.
Notes to editors
Under Part VIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, the Treasurer can direct the ACCC to hold a price inquiry into a specified matter.
By holding an inquiry under Part VIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, the ACCC can use compulsory information-gathering powers to gather information from financial institutions including their decision-making documents.
On 14 February 2023, the Treasurer directed the ACCC to undertake an inquiry into the supply of retail deposit products in Australia. The ministerial direction from the Treasurer can be found here: Retail deposits inquiry 2023 - Ministerial direction
The ACCC is due to submit a report to the Treasurer by 1 December 2023.
Information on the timing and progress of the Inquiry can be found on the ACCC's website.