Lack of choice, convenience, ATMs highlighted

March 4, 2016

HE lack of competition and transparency in the banking sector has led to consumers paying high prices to access their own money.url

This was part of the submission by the Consumer Council of Fiji to the Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights on the Fiji Interchange Network (Payments) Bill 2016 in Suva yesterday.

Council CEO Premila Kumar said there was poor ATM access in remote areas and a lack of choice and convenience for customers.

Since commercial banks could not co-operate with each other, she said the country needed this Fiji Interchange Network (Payments) Bill 2016 to be the mover and the shaker.

“Had banks considered the importance of financial inclusion, convenience, affordability and accessibility, then this Bill was not needed,” Ms Kumar said.

She said the country needed non-bank entity ATMs to encourage competition and improve accessibility in rural areas.

The move towards a cashless economy by using electronic payment channels and a shift towards a technology-based financial system was welcomed by the council.

Creating the national switch, Ms Prasad said, would assist Government to realise this vision.

“Linking all payment systems in a single network is a significant development,” she said.

The country’s current system has ATMS and EFTPOS or POS terminals and Mobile payment system.

The six commercial banks licensed by the RBF to provide ATM services are Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation (ANZ), Bank of Baroda, BRED Bank, Bank of South Pacific (BSP), Home Finance Company Ltd (HFC) and Westpac Banking Corporation.

“ANZ and Westpac have a larger market share and their profits are much more as compared to BSP, yet they own fewer ATMs,” Mrs Kumar said.

“Forty-three per cent of the marketplace is dominated by BSP ATM whereas ANZ has 23 per cent and Westpac 21 per cent. If the State leaves it to market players ATM growth will be very slow if the vision is a technology-based financial system.”

She said 54 per cent of ATMs were in the Central Division, while less than half (46 per cent) serving three divisions — Western, Northern and Eastern.

“Ba has 8 ATMs whereas Sigatoka has 17 ATMs — is the ATM based on population?”

She said ATM access in remote areas was poor.

Source: Fiji Times