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Ross McEwan appointed chair of ABA 

The major bank chief executive has been appointed chair of the Australian Banking Association for the next two years.

National Australia Bank’s (NAB) CEO Ross McEwan on Friday (8 December) was appointed chair of the Australia Banking Association (ABA).

Mr McEwan was revealed as chair at the association’s annual general meeting that also saw Marnie Baker, CEO of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, remain in the role of deputy chair.

Mr McEwan stated that he was optimistic regarding the economy and the ability of Australians to adapt and overcome hardship.

He commented: “We are and will see more customers facing hardship. Our job is to step forward and help them while continuing to support those in a position to grow and invest.

“Protecting customers from the threat of scams and cyber attacks is also a top priority for our bank and the industry, while we will continue to support customers as the way they bank and use money changes dramatically.”

Mr McEwan takes over the role from Westpac CEO Peter King, whom he thanked for his leadership of the industry over the past two years.

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“Peter has represented the ABA very well during what has been a critical time for our country and industry as we recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he acknowledged.

“Peter has also worked with the ABA and government on the Scam Safe Accord and the government’s Payments Roadmap. Both are critical projects for customers and all banks.”

The NAB CEO revealed that his priorities for the ABA over the next two years included supporting Australians impacted by high inflation, protecting against the threat of cyber attacks, scams and fraud, and working with customers as they changed the way they accessed and used money.

ABA CEO Anna Bligh welcomed Mr McEwan’s appointment and said she was looking forward to working with him during his two-year appointment.

Ms Bligh commented: “There is a major customer-led digital transition underway in the banking sector. I look forward to working with Ross as banks continue to build a banking sector for the future, embracing technology-enabled transformation while protecting customers from the risk of scams.

“Peter’s leadership and expertise has been invaluable during the past two years as Australia emerged from the pandemic and the digital transition in banking gathered pace at light speed.”

ACCC allows industry discussions

Earlier last week (6 December), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) authorised the main users of cash, including banks, to undertake industry discussions around ensuring cash remains readily available to all Australians.

As the use of cash changes with usage dropping from 70 per cent in 2007 to 13 per cent in 2022 and a projection of just 4 per cent by 2030, organisations including banks, retailer providers, and Australia Post are discussing how to meet the challenge.

Ms Bligh stated: “The changing nature of cash usage is creating strain on the distribution and banks are taking action to support government to ensure that people who need or want to use cash can still get access to it.

“The challenge facing our economy and society is that as the use of cash for payments declines, the unit cost of transporting and distributing it escalates.

“The reason the ABA sought authorisation from the ACCC is so banks can be part of the solution to design a sustainable model for people to access cash in the long-term future.

“As Australians, we are using much less cash, but we will not be cashless any time soon.”

[Related: ASIC opens ABA code consultation]

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