The Australian Banking Association’s updated Banking Code of Practice has cleared its final hurdle, with ASIC announcing yesterday that it has approved the changes. The revised code will commence on March 1 next year.
A new Banking Code of Practice was introduced in July this year. The updated version includes recommendations from the Hayne royal commission relating to access to bank products and services, and easing the burden on borrowers in the agriculture sector.
ASIC says the rules in the code are binding on ABA members and form part of the contracts between banks and their customers.
The updated code introduces an obligation to offer a “basic account”, with no account keeping fees, no minimum deposits, free debit facilities and access to a debit card.
Eligible low-income customers will be able to access basic accounts and other low and no-fee accounts. These accounts cannot have “informal overdrafts”, dishonour fees or overdrawn fees.
ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said: “Every bank will have a standard basic low fee or no fee account for low income earners.”
Banks will provide “inclusive and accessible banking services” to those with limited English and those living in remote areas.
Banks must do more to clarify restrictions on non-monetary defaults in small business loans.
The updated code extends protections to guarantors of small business loans. Banks will be required to first pursue the borrower in the event of a default, before going after the guarantor.
And the new code prohibits default interest on small business loans secured by agricultural and commercial property in the event of drought or natural disaster.