Australian banks hit back at fee criticisms

Representatives from Australia’s major banks have hit back at claims they are profiting from unfair fees on customer accounts.

The defence comes as a report by the left-wing think tank the Australia Institute claimed that $20 billion of the collective $35 billion profit posted in 2009 by the four major banks was down to their monopoly on payment systems like transaction accounts, bank interchange fees and electronic payments, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

However, David Bell, head of the Australian Bankers’ Association, criticised the report as a ’’polemic that denigrates banks’’.

He suggested it had failed to acknowledge the role of the banks in shielding Australia from the full force of the global recession or the fact that the banks’ funding costs remain high.

Dissatisfaction with bank fees have prompted some Aussies to compare savings accounts in search of better offerings.

Meanwhile, the Greens announced this week they would introduce a bill to ban the banks from charging $2 fees for rival customers to use their ATMs.

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