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The ABA

The Australian Banking Association’s membership is comprised of 22 banks from across Australia. ABA member banks are some of Australia’s most recognisable and historic brands. They include the four major banks, iconic regional banks and international banks with an Australian banking licence.

The Australian Banking Association advocates for a strong, competitive and innovative banking industry that delivers excellent and equitable outcomes for customers.

We promote and encourage policies that improve banking services for all Australians, through advocacy, research, policy expertise and thought leadership.


About the ABA

The ABA is an association of 22 member banks in Australia. The ABA works with government, regulators and other stakeholders to improve public awareness and understanding of the industry’s contribution to the economy and to ensure Australia’s banking customers continue to benefit from a stable, competitive and accessible banking industry.

The ABA is led by Anna Bligh, Chief Executive Officer, who is supported by a team of senior public policy staff. Anna started in the role in April 2017 and is focused on strengthening trust and confidence in banking and delivering better outcomes for customers.

The ABA is governed by a Council which comprises Chief Executive Officers of member banks. Read more.

The ABA Constitution is available here.

What we do

The ABA addresses a large range of public policy issues to help build a regulatory environment that promotes growth in the banking industry and the wider economy. We work to ensure banking is affordable and accessible and enables customers to get the right products and services for their banking needs.

The ABA ensures the banking industry’s views are put forward when governments determine policy or legislation. Many areas of Commonwealth and State law and in some cases international law, impact upon the interests of Australian banks.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) all regulate banks.

Many areas of law, for example taxation or financial sector reform, affect the trading environment for Australian banks and the ABA consults its members to form industry positions on these and many other issues.

Our History

The Australian Banking Association traces its history back to the late 1940s when a national organisation was formed to oppose a Government proposal to nationalise the banking system. Since then, it has taken on many roles and responsibilities on behalf of its membership, but the modern organisation reflects major restructures that occurred in 1985 and 1997.

In the mid-1980s it was decided that the ABA’s role was too limited and that it would be broadened in favour of having a fully representative organisation of all licensed banks in Australia. Three existing organisations were merged to form the new association. Those organisations were the Australian Banking Association-Research Directorate, the Australian Banking Association and a Banking Education Service. Subsequently, the Banks’ Industrial Association was also integrated into the ABA.

A new constitution was drafted in 1985, and in 1997 there were further changes to the mission of the ABA to focus the association on its principal benefits to members, that is, an advocate for the banking industry when dealing with Governments, the media and public.

In 2014, the ABA underwent a process of review and renewal to ensure the banking industry is recognised widely as an essential and responsible contributor to Australia’s prosperity.

ABA Annual Report 2021

Introduction

“The past two years have been challenging for many Australians¸ testing the resilience and spirit of our communities, the banking industry and the country as a whole like few times before.

“Despite the challenges we have all faced, banks will continue to support the Australian economy, and we look forward to contributing to a strong recovery in the months and years ahead.”

ABA Chair, Matt Comyn

ABA Ltd Annual Report 2021

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CEO’s report

“More than 65,000 individuals and businesses received hardship assistance in 2021, and while these figures were far lower than the overwhelming demand for assistance in 2020, banks continued to put customers first and provide help where they could.

“The pandemic has also accelerated changes in the way Australians do their banking. We continued to witness the demise of cash and cheques and the use of debit cards soar. Meanwhile, more than 80 per cent of Australians say they prefer to check account balances, pay bills, or transfer money online.

ABA Ltd Annual Report 2021

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Helping customers during COVID-19

The response to COVID-19 has been the ABA’s highest priority this year. In addition to loan deferrals, significant measures have been taken in collaboration with regulators to help millions of Australians navigate the crisis.

More than a million home and business loans have been deferred since the pandemic began in March 2020 and support for customers continued through pandemic lockdowns across Australia in 2021.

ABA Ltd Annual Report 2021

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A changing banking landscape

The banking landscape continues to evolve across Australia. Cash is no longer king, the use of debit cards has continued to sharply increase and customers have continued the shift
to banking online.

New data analysed by the ABA showed more than 80 per cent of Australians say they prefer to check account balances, pay bills, or transfer money online. In addition, less than 20 per cent of Australians say they prefer to do any banking activities in branches.

ABA Ltd Annual Report 2021

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Bouncing back – I love butter

“As a single mother, with a small business, this support gave me so much peace of mind and even inspiration during a time of genuine fear and uncertainty.” Sophia Ly is a single mother who successfully used a loan from the bank to turn her quiet COVID-suffering business into a booming online success story.

The first-time small business owner had built her first ever café, Nosh+ on Sydney’s lower north shore. It was a thriving business with many loyal customers. That was, until COVID-19 hit, sending her sales and family income crashing down.

ABA Ltd Annual Report 2021

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Previous annual reports:

Annual Report 2020

In 2020, the Australian Banking Association became the Australian Banking Association Limited, a company limited by guarantee.

Read the ABA 2020 Annual Report