The ACCC has granted authorisation with conditions to the Australian Banking Association (ABA), the Customer Owned Banking Association, banks, retailers and other industry participants to allow them to continue developing responses to support the distribution of cash across Australia.

This follows concerns expressed by the major supplier of cash-in-transit services in Australia, Armaguard, that the industry cannot be sustained in its current form.

Cash-in-transit services involve cash transport, management and processing services that maintain the distribution of cash to banks, retailers and independent ATM operators.

This authorisation only relates to discussing and reaching in-principle agreements about industry responses to providing ongoing access to cash. The authorisation is for a short duration and will expire at the end of October 2024.

Submissions received during the ACCC’s consultation indicated general support for these discussions.

The ABA will be required to separately apply to the ACCC for authorisation to cover implementation of any industry responses.

"A key condition of this authorisation is that the ABA continue to report on their discussions. It is crucial that the discussions take into account views from a broad stakeholder group, particularly to ensure initiatives are developed to maintain access to cash in regional and remote areas,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“That will be an important consideration for any future authorisation applications as it can be particularly difficult to access cash in remote and regional areas where consumers are more likely to be high cash users, bank branches are limited and often the only access is through non-bank sources including Australia Post and retailers.”

Separately, in March 2024, the ABA lodged an application for authorisation to enable the ABA, its member banks, and other industry participants who distribute and/or utilise cash in their businesses to discuss and implement measures in the event of, or in reasonable anticipation of, a disruption to the supply of cash. The ACCC granted interim authorisation with conditions in March 2024, and the application is currently being assessed by the ACCC.

On 6 December 2023, the ACCC granted interim authorisation to the ABA, banks, and other relevant industry participants to discuss arrangements for continuing the physical distribution of cash throughout Australia.

On 13 June 2023, the ACCC granted merger authorisation to Linfox Armaguard and Prosegur Australia to combine their cash distribution and management and other businesses in Australia and accepted a court-enforceable undertaking, which is a condition of the authorisation.

More information, including a copy of the decision is available on the ACCC's public register: Australian Banking Association Ltd (cash-in-transit initiatives)

Notes to editors

The ACCC is not responsible for progressing any business continuity or funding arrangements. Instead the ACCC’s role is to consider requests for exemptions from competition laws that may be breached, to enable competitors to collaborate on such arrangements.

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 (CCA).

Section 91 of the CCA 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 CCA authorisation 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.

In addition to ABA members, other businesses who the interim authorisation extends to are other banks (who are not ABA members), Australia Post, cash-in-transit service providers and retailers, supermarkets and other businesses who distribute and use cash in their businesses.

On 13 June 2023, the ACCC granted merger authorisation to Linfox Armaguard and Prosegur Australia to combine their cash distribution and management and other businesses in Australia and accepted a court-enforceable undertaking, which is a condition of the authorisation.