Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

ATM fees scrapped but gouging continues

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The announcement by the big four banks that automatic teller machine (ATM) fees will be scrapped will save customers $500 million per year.

The ATM fee, usually $2 per transaction, was a standard charge applied to those using ATMs owned by other banks. The move comes as the ‘big four’ face increased public pressure and calls for a banking royal commission.

While collectively making billions of dollars in profits, the major banks have been embroiled in numerous scandals. Of note are 54,000 alleged breaches of anti-money laundering and terror financing laws. In addition, they are under scrutiny for predatory bank lending practices as they seek to squeeze profits from the housing boom.

While the banks claim that the scrapping of ATM fees is about prioritising customers and re-building trust, it comes as reports reveal that banks are charging foreign exchange fees 30 times the rate of banks across Europe and the US. So, while they forgo $500 million in ATM fees they gouge billions more in other fees and charges.

Despite a raft of laws and regulations, the profit-making nature of privately owned banks creates an environment whereby risk and unethical conduct is rewarded. Making matters worse, banks in Australia are guaranteed bailouts if they fail which means risky behaviour is underwritten by taxpayer dollars!

While the big banks have made record profits for years, it has come at the expense of the staff, branch closures and reduced services. That we are forced to use these corrupt institutions is a rort.

Socialists stand for a single state-owned bank that is run in the interests of the community rather than big shareholders. A publicly owned and democratically controlled bank run on a not-for-profit basis could immediately use its resources to eliminate fees and charges, provide interest free loans, and invest its funds in a socially useful way.

By Socialist Party reporters


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