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In what is one of the most tumultuous times for the financial services sector in recent years, SBP was intrigued to hear what the industry heavyweights had to say at this year’s Australian Financial Review Banking Summit. While discussions from big bank representatives were aplenty, it was the insights from government regulators that gave the best indication of which financial fires need to be extinguished.

Here’s a summary of the hot spots that financial regulator representatives addressed at the 2023 Financial Review Banking Summit.

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (and could it happen in Australia?)

John Lonsdale, Chair, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)

Despite occurring thousands of kilometres away, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank rocked the confidence of Australian consumers, with many fearing a potential ripple effect would hit our banking systems. Our banks depend on access to international markets to meet their needs, and what happens overseas does affect us.

However, when discussing the collapse of SVB and its effect on Australia, John Lonsdale and APRA’s stance was clear – “We are confident that the banking systems here are some of the best in the world when it comes to handling crises.”

Lonsdale stressed how APRA’s prudential framework exceeds that of other nations in capital, liquidity and beyond. He stated that consumers have no reason to believe that their money is not “safe and [available] on demand”.

“Australians can be confident that their banking system is among the strongest and most resilient in the world.”

John Lonsdale, Chair, APRA

The importance of competition during the cost-of-living crisis

Gina Cass-Gottlieb, Chair, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)

Gina Cass-Gottlieb emphasised that market competition could play a key role in improving the current cost-of-living crisis. She outlined the critical importance of competitive and innovative markets in creating choice for consumers, especially those who are particularly vulnerable in the current climate of cost of living pressures.

Cass-Gottlieb stated that keeping competition prices fair was a top priority for the ACCC in this difficult time, and it “will not hesitate to take strong action to ensure this happens”. Looking specifically to the financial services industry, the ACCC will be exploring:

  • How banks set their rates on retail products
  • What their strategy is on these products
  • The role of deposits in their overall funding mix
  • The ease of switching between suppliers

“During the cost-of-living crisis, a competitive financial services sector is essential.”

Gina Cass-Gottlieb, Chair, ACCC

Lowering card payment costs for merchants

Ellis Connolly, Head of Payments Policy, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)

According to Ellis Connolly, the shift to cashless payments in recent years has been “remarkable”. The increased convenience of card technology has also led to increased use of digital cards, with around one third of consumers now making contactless payments by tapping their phones.

While card and online payments are very popular, the RBA says there are still some areas of regulation that need to be addressed. Fees that providers charge merchants are generally higher for mobile and online payments, which is putting pressure on businesses.

One way to reduce surcharges for merchants when receiving online payments is Least-Cost Routing (LCR). The RBA is investigating which providers are using LCR as a way to make the payment market more competitive and put less pressure on merchants, including major banks.

The impact of cyber attacks on banking frameworks

John Lonsdale, Chair, APRA

APRA implemented a new capital banking framework on January 1 of this year, yet it is already investigating how to strengthen the framework further. Lonsdale identified that a potential focus area would be digital banking and prevention of cyber attacks.

While digital banking has made transactions far easier and more accessible, Lonsdale reminded us that “information and misinformation can also spread faster than ever before” due to digital banking and social media. Boosting cyber resilience remains one of APRA’s top priorities, and there is a need to continually raise the bar on cyber preparedness.

Lonsdale explained that APRA will be focusing on several cyber-related issues in the financial sector, including:

  • Improving bank defences to mitigate constantly evolving cyber threats
  • Addressing a lack of vigour in cyber security testing
  • Increasing safeguards for customer data

“Stop. Think. Protect yourself.”

ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb on educating consumers about financial scams

Disruption of scams

Gina Cass-Gottlieb, Chair, ACCC

There were over $569 million of funds reported as losses to the government’s Scamwatch last year. According to Cass-Gottlieb, engaging with the financial sector to disrupt scams and protect consumers will be a priority for the ACCC moving forward.

Financial institutions are in a unique position to help, with traditional bank transfers still the most common method for scams (surprisingly, not crypto currency transactions). The ACCC has six steps to improve scam prevention within banks:


Prevent scammers from opening accounts at institutions


Ensure banks have rigorous identity verification processes


Ensure systems can flag and block suspicious transactions


Intervene to warn customers when suspicious transactions occur


Introduce confirmation of payees to reduce the losses to scams


Stay on top of scam trends and educate bank employees about scams

SBP would like to thank the Australian Financial Review and all speakers and presenters at the 2023 Banking Summit.

Get in touch with us today to see how these regulatory insights into financial services can be used to boost your next campaign.

Josh Dufficy, Copywriter

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