National Australia Bank (NAB) has prepared a peace offering for customers disillusioned by the banking royal commission, announcing plans to cut fees for small-business clients by more than $7.8 million each year.
The bank says it will abolish a tranch of online banking fees for small-business clients by June, part of a drive to be “simpler and more transparent for customers”.
The most significant saving is the removal of a $10 monthly fee about 65,000 small business customers pay for using internet banking, although 49 other fees are also being axed.
For example, small business customers with consumer or commercial credit cards will also benefit from the removal of $15 late payments, provided they’ve paid on time over the last 11 months.
NAB’s chief customer experience officer Rachel Slade said there was a need to simplify fee structures for companies, pointing out the fees booklet for business customers is currently 48-pages long.
“We’ve heard from our customers that some fees are complex and confusing,” Slade said in a statement.
“We have more than 400 fees across our operations and we see a big opportunity to radically reduce this number by simplifying the way we charge fees, and in many cases, removing them altogether.”
Nine other business banking related fees, used by a varying number of customers, are also being axed by NAB, including:
- Fees for payments submitted during the extended cut-off time;
- SMS payments alert fee – individual;
- SMS payments alert fee – batch;
- Authorising user monthly fee;
- Security token charges;
- Stop cheque fee;
- Vouchers online fee;
- Financial file transfer monthly fee; and
- SWIFT MT940 account information charge.
NAB declined to quantify how much customers will save from the removal of these nine other fees.
Australia’s big four banks are on a public relations offensive in the wake of the banking royal commission, which exposed what Commissioner Kenneth Hayne described as a ‘culture of greed’ across the financial services sector.
Commonwealth Bank made a swathe of policy changes to extend an olive branch to small business clients back in February, although it reserved benefit for existing and “eligible” customers.
However, there remain a number of ongoing issues in small business relations with major banks, including a widely reported squeeze in lending, which has ultimately culminated in Parliament establishing a $2 billion securitisation fund to promote better access to finance.
Meanwhile, while Commissioner Hayne made only a few material recommendations for reforming the SME lending space, his suggestion the definition of small business be changed in the Banking Code of Practice 2019, has been met with opposition by sector lobbyist the Australian Banking Association.