Each and every day millions of Australians pay financial institutions to access their own money.
Some pay more while others pay less, depending on the way they do it. Sometimes, as with EFTPOS transactions, the price consumers pay for their own money is largely invisible, being factored into the prices of goods and services. In other cases, the cost of using your own money is embedded in bank fees, or else in forgone interest from transaction accounts with negligible rates of interest.
One of the most expensive ways for Australians to access their own money is by using a third-party automatic teller machine - that is, an ATM not provided by their own bank. In most cases, third-party ATMs charge $2 for every transaction, including checking one’s account balance. In other words, $2 is the price consumers pay every time they are disloyal to their bank.
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A bold prediction for Melbourne Cup Day - interest rates may or may not go up today. A slightly bolder prediction is that the next bank which argues it has to increase its standard variable home loan rate, without any corresponding increase in the Reserve Bank’s official cash rate, will face a backlash of unprecedented scale. Equally, the next banker who pops his head up to say that public anger over fees and charges is a media beat-up will have his head bitten off.
There are about 20 billion reasons why Australia’s big four banks have run out of goodwill. Australians are generally a pretty level-headed lot and people understand the need to have a strong banking sector.
They’re grateful that the banks are run prudently and conservatively. They know what has happened in other western economies over the past couple of years, where the job has fallen to the taxpayers to bail out less cautious financial institutions. They also know that a strong banking sector, which makes a legitimate profit, adds to our collective long-term wealth through the shares that are held in our superannuation funds.
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