Australian consumers are looking for a banking system more in tune with them, one that helps them manage their daily household challenges and future economic goals.

To deliver on genuine banking competition and create a vibrant, diverse and stronger financial system, we need to acknowledge the strengths of our current system, and more importantly, tackle those challenges posed.

The customer-owned model is an Australian success story – around 100 diverse institutions across Australia supplying affordable banking services to four million Australians.

However, the current regulatory framework has failed to provide competitive neutrality, or in other words, a level playing field, particularly for the smaller players.

In 2014, the Financial System Inquiry under the stewardship of David Murray is a once in a generation opportunity to critically examine our banking market and help to foster future economic growth and prosperity, consumer choice, greater competition and product innovation.

It is critical that we have a system that is both competitive and stable.

The customer-owned banking sector has argued for policy responses that would promote competition and choice in banking:

  • The removal of structural impediments to competition, such as the implicit funding subsidy enjoyed by the major banks;
  • A competitively neutral framework that recognises, and promotes, the great asset of our world-leading customer owned banking sector;
  • Fairer capital and regulatory rules for large and small banks;
  • A more effective disclosure regime to ensure consumers are able to make a genuine choice about banking.

Only genuine competition in the banking market can deliver the pricing, service and innovation that Australian consumers, small businesses and other users deserve.

This inquiry is an opportunity to refresh and reshape, to take stock of the challenges ahead and plan for the next economic challenge. We encourage all Australians interested in strong, competitive banking to be part of the debate, and help shape the future of banking.

Louise Petschler is the CEO of Customer Owned Banking Association.

For more information on customer-owned banking institutions visit: