ACCC Authorises Industry Collaboration for Sustainable Access to Cash

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Original media release by the ACCC (6/12/2023).

The ACCC has granted interim authorisation to the Australian Banking Association (ABA), its member banks, and other relevant industry participants to discuss and develop arrangements to maintain the physical distribution of cash throughout the Australian economy.

The authorisation application follows concerns expressed by the major supplier of cash-in-transit services in Australia, Armaguard, that the industry is not sustainable in its current form.

Cash-in-transit services involve providing cash transport, management and processing services. These services are provided to banks, retailers and independent ATM operators.

This authorisation relates only to discussions and reaching in-principle agreements about an industry response to support ongoing access to cash.

The ABA has advised that before adopting and implementing an agreed industry response, it would seek a separate ACCC authorisation for the proposed way forward, if required.

“The ACCC will closely assess any proposed response, and in particular the extent to which it secures ongoing access to cash in remote and regional areas where bank branches are limited and members of the public often access cash through non-bank sources including Australia Post and retailers,” ACCC Acting Chair Catriona Lowe said.

“A key condition of this interim authorisation is that the ABA report on their discussions to maintain access to cash in regional and remote areas. This will be an important consideration for any future application for authorisation by the industry.”

More information, including a copy of the decision and details on how to make a submission, is available on the website.

Notes to editors

ACCC authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act (CCA).

Section 91 of the CCA allows the ACCC to grant interim authorisation when it considers it is appropriate. This allows the parties to engage in the proposed conduct while the ACCC is considering the merits of the substantive CCA authorisation application.

The ACCC may review a decision on interim authorisation at any time, including in response to feedback raised following interim authorisation.

Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.

In addition to ABA members, other businesses who the interim authorisation extends to are other banks (who are not ABA members), Australia Post, cash-in-transit service providers and retailers, supermarkets and other businesses who distribute and use cash in their businesses.

On 13 June 2023, the ACCC granted merger authorisation to Linfox Armaguard and Prosegur Australia to combine their cash distribution and management and other businesses in Australia and accepted a court-enforceable undertaking, which is a condition of the authorisation.