Australia’s biggest banks will stop charging customers of other banks a $2 fee to withdraw cash from their ATMs, attracting both praise and renewed calls for a royal commission into banking.
The Commonwealth Bank was the first to abolish the fee early on Sunday, citing ongoing consumer unhappiness with it as the reason for the decision. ANZ, Westpac and NAB followed suit on Sunday afternoon.
Treasurer Scott Morrison praised the banks and said the government was putting pressure on them to put their customers first.
“Australians are sick and tired of all of these fees that mount up,” he told reporters in Sydney.
"So when banks respond in this way, I am happy to give them a pat on the back when they do the right thing."
Reserve Bank of Australia data shows Australians made more than 250 million ATM withdrawals from banks other than their own last year.
Group Executive of Retail Banking Services at the Commonwealth Bank Matt Comyn said the decision was designed to increase convenience and help consumers save.
"We think this change will benefit many Australians and hopefully demonstrate our willingness to listen and act on customer feedback," he said in a statement.
ANZ Group Executive Fred Ohlsson said the fee would be dropped on its more than 2300 machines from early October.
Westpac Group Executive, Consumer, George Frazis said the decision would apply to its Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA customers and particularly benefit rural and regional consumers.
"We want all Australians, whether they are Westpac Group customers or not, to benefit from one of Australia's largest ATM networks," he said.
NAB Chief Customer Officer of Consumer Banking and Wealth Andrew Hagger said all Australians, regardless of their bank, could use their ATMs and not be charged a cash withdrawal fee.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said the decision was no reason to ease off a royal commission into banking.
"Imagine how we could get better banking for all Australians if we had a banking royal commission," he said.
Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the threat of an impending royal commission, coupled with mounting public pressure over multiple scandals, prompted CommBank to act.
He said a royal commission or a parliamentary commission of inquiry would put more pressure on the banks to lift their game.
The Australian Bankers' Association welcomed the ATM fee scrap, saying it would make banking more affordable and improve services for customers.
The fee will still apply to customers using overseas bank cards.