Sunday, January 13, 2008
In response to higher than expected mortgage rate increases last week, Australian treasurer Wayne Swan flagged changes to banking regulations to increase competition between lenders on home mortgages.
Swan announced yesterday he had sought a Treasury report on the banking sector ahead of talks over the next fortnight on reforms to make it easier for bank customers to move mortgages between lenders by forcing banks to reduce exit fees, to “make the market more competitive”.
“Everybody knows we’ve been impacted upon by the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis that has pushed up the cost of money,” Swan said.
“But, as I said last week, some of the increases we saw by the banks were not justified. In my view, they were excessive. I urge people to vote with their feet. If there are obstacles to people voting with their feet, switching their accounts, we’ll have a look at those.”
The banking industry, however, insists that loan refinancing is not a complicated process currently, according to the head of the Australian Bankers Association (ABA), David Bell. “There is a competitive marketplace for home loans and the Cannex website shows the many products that are available,” said Bell. “Regarding the switching of transaction accounts, the Australian Payments Clearing Association is conducting a community consultation process on this issue. ABA member banks support this process.”