Good morning, and thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. We welcome and look forward to the discussion.
With a strong labour market, immigration returning and a robust export sector Australia is relatively well placed to deal with the current economic environment.
Despite these positive indicators we are acutely aware that many Australians are finding it tough, household confidence is now as low as it was during both the GFC and COVID.
Inflation peaked in December but remains uncomfortably high.
Those with mortgages are bearing the brunt of monetary policy, but renters are also facing sharp increases.
While the number of customers who are failing to make repayments is still very low by historical standards, it is clear that many more are feeling under pressure.
Many households are pulling back on discretionary spending and dipping into accumulated savings.
For example, among younger people who bought their first home during the pandemic the majority have now reduced their spending, and a third have reduced it by more than 30 per cent year on year.
We have a range of support measures available, including payment deferrals, interest only loans, and repayment plans. We are proactively contacting customers and I encourage any of our customers who are facing difficulty to talk with us about these options.
Helping customers when they need it is a priority for us. Another issue impacting customers is the rise in fraud and scams, which are impacting Australians at unacceptable levels.
We are extremely focused on combatting scams and protecting our customers.
Earlier this year we launched a service called NameCheck, to give our customers more confidence that they are transferring money to the intended account. In three months we believe this service has saved customers over $11 million in mistaken payments.
We have launched CallerCheck, so that customers can have confidence that a call is from the Commonwealth Bank and have partnered with Telstra as we seek to better identify whether a customer is being scammed.
We have introduced 24 hour holds for certain crypto transactions and blocks on transactions to exchanges with high levels of fraud. In addition, we are making changes to monthly trading limits to keep customers safe.
However more needs to be done.
Firstly, as the Government has recognised through welcome initiatives like the National Anti-Scams Centre, a multi-sector approach is required.
Information needs to be quickly shared between banks, social media platforms and telcos to take down scam websites, block scam text messages, and prevent payments where we reasonably believe a scam has occurred.
Secondly, through the era of instant payments and the emergence of crypto currencies the system has prioritised speed of payments, customer convenience, and innovation.
Across the board safety needs to be better prioritised.
It is clear that to reduce scams and improve customer safety, we need to slow down some types of payments.
The rise of fraud and scams and the rapidly growing shift to digital payments highlights the need to ensure we have a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework.
I’d like to acknowledge the Government’s Payments Review – it is a substantial and considered piece of work.
It has been thirty years since some of the payments law was written, the Government is proposing to broaden the definition of payment service provider to include all participants in the system.
This will mean ensuring all participants play their part in protecting customers and the system operates effectively and safely.
The Commonwealth Bank has invested over $600m in building core systems to support the consumer data right and the real time payments system.
It is good that multinational players view Australia as a market for innovation and for growth – but only if they are also investing in the infrastructure they are using, contributing positively to the broader ecosystem, and acting as agents of competition rather than as gatekeepers.
These are just some of the issues that are impacting Australians and we welcome the serious approach the Government is taking to engage on them.