The Australian Banking Association Ltd (ABA) and its member banks will be able to participate in discussions to develop an industry standard to prevent, detect, and disrupt scams affecting individual and small business customers, following a conditional ACCC interim authorisation.

“A coordinated response across government, law enforcement and the private sector is essential to effectively combat scams that are evolving rapidly and with increasing sophistication,” ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said.

“We have acted quickly on this interim authorisation because the proliferation of scams is causing significant detriment to consumers and businesses alike, and the banking sector has a key role in combating scams and recovering losses.”

The interim authorisation applies to all ABA member banks, which currently includes AMP Bank, ANZ, Bank Australia, Bank of Queensland Limited, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, Citigroup, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, HSBC, ING Bank, J.P. Morgan Australia and New Zealand, Macquarie Bank, MUFG Bank, National Australia Bank, Rabobank Australia, Suncorp Bank and Westpac.

“We have placed reporting conditions on the ABA to ensure we are informed of the progress of their discussions, including consultation with stakeholders, and to aid us in determining our final decision on the application,” Ms Lowe said.

“The ABA will be required to provide regular reports on any industry initiatives they propose such as circumstances where customers would be reimbursed or entitled to remedies.”

The ACCC’s authorisation also includes strict measures to manage the risk of the banks coordinating on anything beyond scam prevention and customer redress.

The ACCC notes the Federal Government has recently announced that a legislated cross-industry Code will be introduced for banks, telcos social media platforms and others in the near term. The ABA has submitted that a robust and well considered bank industry standard can form the building blocks of the legislated cross-industry code.

Consideration of these issues will be part of the public benefits consideration in our substantive decision.

More information, including a copy of the decision and details on how to make a submission, is available at the ACCC’s authorisation public register.

Notes to editors

ACCC authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Section 91 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 allows the ACCC to grant interim authorisation when it considers it is appropriate. This allows the parties to engage in the proposed conduct while the ACCC is considering the merits of the substantive application.

The ACCC may review a decision on interim authorisation at any time, including in response to feedback raised following interim authorisation.

Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.