Steven Secker

Candidate for the Heron ward in Armadale


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The last of the government banks in Australia being sold off marked the beginning of both a slide in banking services and a rise in fees. If banks “A” and “B” provide ATM services to their clients they does so at no cost to the clients. If a client of bank “A” uses an ATM with bank “B” then “B” charges a fee to “A” and “A” charges the client. That’s how the banks want you to see it. However, particularly among the big banks, the number of clients of bank “B” using ATMs of bank “A” would be similar to the number the other way round, and since each bank provides free services to its own clients, and since all the banks are on-line to each other all the time – or EFT wouldn’t work at all – there is virtually no net cost associated with providing ATM facilities for customers of other banks. The fee charged for this service should be abolished immediately.

Given that the banks are on-line to each other all the time, there is no reason why a payment made through internet banking to someone whose account is with another bank should not go through almost as quickly as a payment between a customer’s own accounts. The banks have long been accused of using that money on the short-term money market, and have been vocal in denying that claim because such activity is illegal. The reality is that money “in transit” between banks hasn’t been physically shifted for many years, but can be put in a position which allows other funds held by the bank to be used on the short-term money market, or something equivalent. Technically the banks are correct in denying the claim, but effectively they are not.

Bpay facilities are also set up to provide another way for the banks to charge customers fees which they should be able to avoid. Though it is only businesses which pay to have Bpay access those fees would be totally eliminated if the banks used a registered merchant code to direct “Pay Anyone” payments to those merchants, and such payments do not normally attract fees.

Before the introduction of ATMs customers needed to go into a branch to deposit or withdraw funds. That required branches, with all the inherent equipment, leasing and staffing costs. Getting people to use internet banking, EFTPOS and ATMs for nearly all transactions, and moving towards mobile lending officers, have significantly reduced the cost of providing banking services, and the need for a large number of branches, though there is still a need for some to cater for cash handling and a few other transactions which require personal attention. The cost of an ATM, which runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is less than that of one full-time staff member (after allowing for leave, benefits and superannuation) so it is ridiculous for the banks to start charging for internet banking, EFTPOS and ATM transactions.

In 2015 the banks, supposedly at the behest of MasterCard and Visa, told everyone that signatures would no longer be available as a security protection for credit cards, claiming that a four-digit PIN was better security than a signature. Barry O’Farrell, then NSW Premier, was found guilty of misleading parliament over a bottle of wine, based on his writing, and forced to resign, such is the security value of a signature. No-one can proven guilty of theft based only on a four-digit PIN. The real reason for the banks wanting to remove signatures is that it takes more effort to check a potentially fraudulent transaction, and many merchants were simply not checking signatures. That’s no reason to remove the best security we have at the moment. The banks will continue to tell people that signatures are not available on credit cards, but that is not true. All banks have a number of customers with signature enabled cards. The forced acceptance of contactless paying systems is another way in which the banks undermine our security. When someone can pick up a dropped credit card and run up multiple transactions of nearly $100 each without any security check then your security has just been destroyed. I understand that there is a move to have an app available to turn off the PayWave facility on a card, but it should always have been an “opt in” system. Banks should be required to provide signature ONLY cards to every customer who requests one – i.e. no PIN, no PayWave.

The Policy

I will push strongly for:
● banks to be required to provide an option of true signature only and tap-and-go free credit and debit cards;
● banks to be required to drop all charges for using an ATM of a bank other than the customer’s own;
● transfers between banks, where the account details of the payee are provided, to be almost immediate;
● fees for internet banking, ATM and EFTPOS transactions to be abolished;
● the State government to open a new WA Bank, to provide quality service at an affordable cost, complying with at least the first three aspects above, while still making a profit for the State.

Authorised by Steven Secker, 4 Dower Court, Armadale.

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