Trending Financial News 14 August

One debt collector is the king of bankruptcy

The Financial Counsellors association, the Consumer Action Law Centre and the Financial Rights Legal Centre are all calling for the threshold debt level for bankruptcy be raised from $5,000 to $50,000.

An ABC investigation has revealed that one debt collection company, Lion Finance, made more than 500 debtors bankrupt in just one year, many over small debts of a few thousand dollars. During the same 12 month period, Commonwealth Bank applied to make seven people bankrupt.

Court rules borrowers can give up luxuries

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has failed in a court action alleging Westpac breached responsible lending laws more than 260,000 times between December 2011 and March 2015.

Westpac had agreed to pay a $35 million fine for using an automated decision-making system that relied on a household expenditure measure, not the actual living expenses declared by the applicant.

But the federal court dismissed the settlement saying ASIC had failed to prove its case. The Federal Court’s Justice Nye Perram also said that borrowers often cut back their spending levels to repay their loan.

“I may eat wagyu beef everyday washed down with the finest shiraz,” said Justice Nye Perram, “but, if I really want my new home, I can make do on much more modest fare.”

ASIC reacts to Westpac court victory

In March 2017, ASIC commenced Federal Court proceedings against Westpac alleging more than 260,000 breaches of responsible lending rules. ASIC alleged that Westpac’s automated assessment system used the Household Expenditure Measure formula to approve loans instead of the stated expenses incurred by the applicants.

However, Justice Nye Perram found that a lender “may do what it wants in the assessment process.” 

ASIC Commissioner Sean Hughes said ASIC took on Westpac to test responsible lending laws.

“As a regulator, it is our role to test the law,” said Mr Hughes.

Real time payments delayed again

Millions of Aussie banking customers will not get real time payments and transfers between banks until next year. AMP and HSBC Australia have confirmed delays to their New Payments Platform (NPP) rollout programs. ME, Bendigo, BoQ, Suncorp and other banks have also been slow to completely adopt the new powerful payments platform. No major bank has completely moved to the NPP.

Since the start of August, Macquarie Bank transaction and savings account customers have been able to receive instant payments. A spokesperson told Banking Day that Macquarie customers would be able to start sending payments “in the coming months”.

RBA payments officials are reportedly frustrated with the lethargic roll-out of NPP-related services. NPP Australia has now acquired new powers to impose fines on institutions that fail to meet rollout deadlines.

Commonwealth Bank favours app over Netbank

Commonwealth Bank was one of the first banks to add instant payments functionality to its mobile banking app but has not loaded the same services to its internet banking site, Netbank.

A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson has denied that CBA is giving preference to mobile app customers as it rolls out New Payments Platform (NPP) functionality.

“As the majority of our customers actively use the CommBank app, our initial rollout of NPP features was to this banking channel,” the spokesperson said.

“Additional functionality will continue to be enabled in the coming months, including payments from NetBank.”

What is PayID?

PayID is a new service being introduced by Australian banks and credit unions to make paying and receiving money easier. You create a PayID by choosing something easy to remember, for example your phone number, email address or ABN, and link it to your chosen account. To get paid you share your PayID, rather than your BSB and account number.

Increasing numbers of Australian banks are adopting PayID which is available under the New Payments Platform banking system. The money typically arrives in the payee’s account within one minute.

What is Osko?

Osko is a real time payments service for transferring money between banks and accounts almost instantly. Osko was created by BPAY and is currently active at over 60 banks and credit unions in Australia, with more institutions to come.

75 per cent of Osko payments are between individuals – friends and family –  and average $25. Osko is also good for making and receiving payments for tradies, small businesses and other merchants.

What does “Osko” mean? Osko is a made-up new word for a new payments system, says BPAY.

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