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Connexus : Issue 41
an inquiry can protect the financial system Australians are a competitive bunch. The Olympic per iod showed us we relish and welcome the challenge of being the best we can be. Banking is no different as customer -ow ned enterprises, credit unions, building societies and mutual banks take up this challenge each day to deliver the best value and customer ser vice in Australia. But the relationship between stability and competition is now out of kilter, and competition and consumers are the losers. The 2012 banking environment is one where the major banks have a competitive advantage and smaller players are hampered in their efforts to compete fairly. Abacus asked Deloitte Access Economics to prepare a report on the state of Australia’s financial system and how it should best respond to the undoubted challenges ahead. In this edition of Connexus we explore in depth the issue of competition in banking, DAE’s repor t and the next steps industry players argue should be taken. Our position is for a fully fledged inquiry commissioned by the federal government. This is the best way to restore genuine competition in banking and protect Australia’s fi nancial system for the challenges of tomorrow. It’s high time we had an inquiry, the first since the Wallis inquiry of 1997! The release of the DAE Repor t last month has trigger ed public debate on how competitive our system is and whether it delivers a fair deal for all institutions and their customers. I believe this debate is not only good to have but necessar y. We’ll continue to shape discussion on this impor tant issue. As smaller institutions our combined member strength represents one in five Australians – something we should all be proud of, and a figure we all aim to build on. A truly competitive banking landscape, no special favours, just equal treatment, will help us with that goal. There are two important issues explored in detail in Connexus that are commanding growing attention from both consumers and members. The first issue is the explosion of new technology that is changing the way payments ar e made. Technology combined with rapid consumer take- up is driving new payment methods and challenging all financial institutions. They way we transact is exper iencing an evolution – one members are grabbing hold of to meet rapidly changing customer demand. There are some terrific case studies in our article on payments showing members’ innovation in adapting to new ways to do business. It’s clear that technology and online commerce offer consumers major benefits – convenience, lower prices and speed in a time poor world. But the r ise in online payments also comes with increased risk. Recent national statistics show the increase in online pay ments has been accompanied by a rise in fraud. As you read Connexus, many members will be participating in lively discussions, networking and social events at Mutuals 2012, the Abacus AM Institute Convention. We trust that the convention will live up to its promise and theme of Oppor tunity to Action. With an exper t and diverse line-up of Australian and inter national speaker s, I’m excited and thrilled by the possibilities this experience will offer members, not only now but in the weeks and months ahead when great speaker messages come to life in our mutuals. I hope you enjoy the latest Connexus. louise Petschler, CEO, Abacus CEO comment The 2012 banking environment is one where the major banks have a competitive advantage and smaller players are hampered in their efforts to compete fairly. www.abacus.org.au 7