ABA survey finds consumer banking trends

A report released by the Australian Bankers’ Association has revealed consumers are using their bank transaction accounts more than ever but are paying the lowest average fees to do so in six years.

The annual report, Fees for Banking Services, showed that over the past six years, fees from transaction accounts have halved while transaction volumes have increased by 50 per cent.

“For virtually all bank customers their most regular banking experience is with their transaction account,” ABA chief executive Steven Münchenberg said.

“In 2014 [alone], the number of transactions increased by eight per cent but the total fees on these accounts did not change.”

The report shows that total fees paid by households and businesses for banking services increased by 2.8 per cent to $12 billion in 2014.

“The growth in total fees for banking services remains low, especially when compared to the growth in banking activity,” Mr Münchenberg said.

He noted fees as a proportion of bank assets, income and profit are at a record low.

“Additionally, the price of financial services over the past year has not increased as much as other household expenditures such as utilities, education and health,” Mr Münchenberg said.

According to the report, households paid $4.2 billion in fees for banking services in 2014 – an increase of 1.5 per cent but well below the peak levels of five years ago.

“The average weekly fees paid by households was $9. This is consistent with what we have seen over the past four years and much lower than the $12 we were paying in 2008,” Mr Münchenberg said.

Furthermore, the report also showed low growth in fees paid by businesses for banking services, as well as a drop in bank fees on business deposit accounts.

“Businesses paid $7.8 billion in fees in 2014, an increase of 3.5 per cent,” Mr Münchenberg noted. “This is largely attributed to the growth in merchant fees as a result of the increased volume of transactions over the year.”

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Emma Ryan

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