The creation of an innovative full-service bank spun out of the RACQ shows the way forward to greater competition for the banking sector, says the CEO of the Business Council of Co-ops and Mutuals, Melina Morrison.

“It shows what Australians can do with the mutual model when they have access to capital,” says Ms Morrison.

“We can only imagine what our agile member-owned business can achieve if they are freed from the shackles restricting their access to capital.”

The member-owned sector – led by the BCCM, which represents over 2000 businesses – supports the Hammond inquiry into reforms to support co-operatives, mutuals and member-owned firms in Australia so they can invest, grow and employ more Australians.

Member-owned firms in all similar nations have already introduced reforms to give co-operatives and mutuals the means to raise investment capital in addition to the traditional routes of using debt and retained surpluses to fund their growth and innovation plans.

In a world first, the RACQ – Queensland’s 1.6 million-member automobile club – today announced the opening of its initial 13 bank branches.

The automobile club, which is also the Sunshine State’s largest – is also investing in user-friendly technology through its internet banking platform, mobile app and by offering the three newest payment options – Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

“We are particularly enthusiastic about the innovative digital payments the RACQ is offering to their customers and their commitment to low or no fees. The mutual banks we represent have all invested in these customer focused service upgrades, which will only hasten the exodus from the big banks,” Ms Morrison says.

The RACQ financed the move from funds raised from its own balance sheet, showing the sector is ready to help Australian mortgage holders make the switch and that there is fertile ground for new offerings.

“It also shows that with the odds stacked against them, and with the big banks reaping $4 billion from the Federal Government’s implied guarantee on depositors’ savings, the underdog banks have the courage to offer alternatives to Australians – ranging from first homebuyers to retirees,” says Ms Morrison.

The findings of the Hammond inquiry are expected to be made public shortly.

Inquiries: Jonathan Porter 0405170787 

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) is the national peak body representing Australian member-owned businesses. Formed in 2013, the BCCM is led by the chief executives of Australia’s co-operative and mutual businesses in all sectors including agriculture, financial services, health insurance, retail, housing, motoring services and human services. The BCCM works to promote the role of member-owned enterprises in the national economy. With over 2000 co-operative and mutual organisations operating nationally representing a total of 29 million memberships, the BCCM highlights the contribution co-operatives and mutuals make to economic and social development in Australia.

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