ACCC proposes green light for fee-free ATMS in remote communities

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft determination proposing to allow a number of banks and ATM deployers to provide fee free balances and withdrawals at selected existing ATMs in very remote Indigenous communities.

“The government, financial sector and Indigenous communities have grappled with the issue of high ATM fees in very remote Indigenous communities for a number of years,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC proposes to authorise a project coordinated by the Australian Bankers’ Association to provide fee free ATM withdrawals and balance inquiries at selected ATMs as a temporary way of addressing this issue. The project does not extend to deposits or other ATM transactions more broadly.”

On 21 June 2012, the ACCC granted interim authorisation. Interim authorisation enables the banks to undertake the necessary preparation to commence offering fee-free ATM services from 1 December subject to ACCC authorisation.

Authorisation provides statutory protection for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.

The ACCC now invites comments on the draft determination. The ACCC’s draft determination and information about making a submission are available from the ACCC’s website,

Submissions on the draft determination are due 28 September 2012 and any requests for a pre-decision conference should be lodged by 14 September 2012.