Responsible lending, JobSeeker, COVID vaccine: This week’s best banking news

woman looking at laptop calling for responsible lending
  • Responsible lending: 23,000 Aussies call for laws to be strengthened 
  • JobSeeker to go up by $25 per week from April 
  • How the COVID vaccine has affected currencies around the world
  • Bank of Queensland buys ME Bank for a massive $1.3 million
  • Property prices surge: what does it mean for first home buyers? 
  • Here’s what you need to know about the changes to ING’s Savings Maximiser 

All in this week’s best banking recap: editor’s pick. 

Why 23,000 Aussies are calling for responsible lending laws to be kept in place 

After the Senate Economics Committee in Canberra hosted hearings about responsible lending last Friday, Aussies are calling for the laws to be strengthened. 

In fact, prior to the hearings (and the potential stripping back of responsible lending practices by the Government), 23,000 individuals signed a letter to Australian parliamentarians demanding that the laws be maintained. 

Introduced federally in 2009 as part of the National Consumer Credit Protect (NCCP) Act, these laws addressed the not-so-great lending practices during the global financial crisis (GFC). Plus, over two years ago it was recommended that the NCCP Act remain unchanged, as concluded by the banking royal commission. 

The open letter was created by consumer advocacy group CHOICE and it is also supported by more than 125 charities, unions, academic and financial counsellors. 

Read full article:
23,000 Aussies call for responsible lending laws to be strengthened to find out more about what the Government is proposing for these laws.

JobSeeker payments to increase by $50 a fortnight from April 

Earlier in the week, the Federal Government confirmed that the JobSeeker payment will rise by $50 a fortnight from the beginning of April. 

The total fortnightly payment will sit at a maximum of $615.70 (or about $44 a day for a single person).  

On the whole, however, it still amounts to a decrease to the current rate, as a result of the termination of the Coronavirus supplement. 

Since April 2020, Aussies receiving income support had their payments increased by an additional $550 per fortnight (periodically decreased to $150). 

At the moment, those eligible for this type of government benefit can receive up to $715.70 a fortnight (until March 31 when the supplement begins to be phased out). 

Read full article:
JobSeeker to rise by $25 a week from April to find out what you need to do to get this new JobSeeker rate.

Which currencies have been boosted by the COVID vaccine and which have been left behind?

person looking at international currencies on phone

As COVID vaccines continue to be administered throughout the UK, the British Pound has spiked against the US Dollar. GBP hit a new high, passing US$1.41 in the middle of the week (the first time since April 2018). 

Australia also started rolling out vaccines this week, and our dollar has continued to do well - breaking 79 US cents. 

On the flip side, the vaccines and recovering international economy could mean a weaker US dollar. Why? Because the more positive sentiment around the world means investors feel more comfortable using other currencies and don’t rely on the safety blanket of USD as much. 

Read full article:
COVID vaccine race to boost some currencies and leave others behind to find out whether now is the good time to spend money overseas. 

BOQ buys ME Bank for $1.3 billion 

This week Bank of Queensland (BOQ) announced it is taking over industry super fund-owned lender ME Bank. 

The deal came to a large $1.3 billion and came after a bidding war between BOQ, ANZ and Bendigo Bank. 

Last financial year, ME Bank made a profit of $80.85 million. The acquisition by BOQ will be funded by an underwritten capital raising of $1.35 billion and (pending regulatory approval) is expected to be finalised by the end of June 2021. 

Read full article
: BOQ acquires ME Bank in massive $1.3 billion deal to see what chairman of ME Bank, James Evans said about the decision.

How first home buyers could be affected by property prices surge

first home buyer thinking about property price spike

Property prices are set to rise by 16% over the next two years says CommBank.

Latest stats from CommBank’s head of economics, Greath Aird forecasted that the price of Aussie homes will bump up by 9% in 2021 and an additional 7% over 2022. 

This is a result of both low home loan rates and a recovery in employment numbers.

But according to Archistar’s property expert Dr Andrew Wilson, this creates a barrier for first home buyers to crack into the market. 

“[Higher prices are] poison for first home buyers because they can’t save at the same rate for their deposit as rising prices. For owner occupiers, that doesn’t really matter because they have a property to trade in, but first home buyers just have to work off a higher deposit,” Wilson said. 

Read full article:
Could first home buyers be shut out as property prices surge? to see what Mozo’s Steve Jovcevski says about rising housing prices. 

Changes are coming in March to ING’s Savings Maximiser: here’s what you need to know  

The popular ING Savings Maximiser offers has some changes coming next month. 

While no changes are set to happen to its 1.35% interest rate (at least from what we know), from 1 March 2021 the bank is adding another condition for savings account customers to earn full interest. 

The change says that customers must ensure that the balance on their nominated Savings Maximiser is higher than it was at the end of the month prior (not including interest payments). 

Read full article:
ING's Savings Maximiser conditions to change in March: Here's what you need to know to find out more about this account. 

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