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Updated rule book for banks 

Updated rule book for banks 

27 June 2024

The Australian Banking Association welcomes ASIC’s approval of an updated Banking Code of Practice that will continue to drive better banking outcomes for customers.

The updated Code strengthens consumer protections by providing customers with safeguards that are in addition to the law.  

ABA CEO Anna Bligh said this Code will provide an even higher standard of customer protections for Australians.

“Banks are focused on delivering the highest standards of customer service to all Australians, and the Code is a fundamental part of ensuring this happens,” said ABA CEO Anna Bligh.

“This updated rule book for banks raises the bar even higher with enhanced protections for customers. It will ultimately drive even better outcomes for customers.

“Australians can continue to have confidence that when they interact with their bank, they will be getting the highest level of service and customer care.  

“This is a Banking Code with teeth. Customers can continue to take complaints to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority or the courts who can then take strong action when necessary.

“The Banking Code Compliance Committee will also continue to independently monitor compliance by banks.”

The strengthened Code reflects extensive consultation with stakeholders, consumer representatives and regulators, and forms an important pillar of the financial services’ regulatory framework.

It significantly uplifts provisions and includes additional protections for small business customers, guarantors, vulnerable customers and customers requiring additional support. These include:

  • an expanded definition for small business which means an additional 10,000 small business customers will have the protections of the Code 
  • new obligations for banks to meet with customers intending to act as guarantor to help them understand their obligations before accepting a guarantee
  • a new vulnerable customer definition, acknowledging anyone can become vulnerable at any time
  • new provisions for managing deceased estates
  • a new commitment to organise or refer customers to free support services such as interpreters, AUSLAN and National Relay Services
  • greater clarity on the types of support available to all customers, including financial difficulty options for small businesses
  • an updated section on inclusive and accessible banking which recognises banking services should be inclusive of people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.  

Ms Bligh said that since the last Code was updated in 2019 there are now 1,175 pages of additional legislation and regulation applying to the banking sector.

“We have taken the opportunity to remove some provisions that are now covered by legislation. This strikes the right balance between creating new protections and simplifying the Code to ensure it is easier to understand and apply – not only for bank staff, but for customers and their representatives too,” Ms Bligh said.

“Banks are always looking for ways to continuously improve the banking experience for all customers, and the Banking Code is one of the ways to do this.

“Now that ASIC has approved the new Code, ABA banks large and small, will begin making changes to their systems to meet the new requirements as well as training staff ahead of it going live from 28 February 2025.”

An updated Banking Code Compliance Committee Charter, also effective 28 February 2025, will be published shortly on the BCCC website.

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