The Danger of “Status Quo”, Credit Card Surcharges, and Interest Rate gouging

Why it is important to stop anti-competitive behaviour in its tracks?

Humans are strange; we are so very opposed to change before it happens and shortly after it happens, but after some time has passed, we quickly adapt. We forget why we are angry, and accept it. This is dangerous behaviour.

Banks, like any institution, hold a lot of clout, politically and financially. An oligarch or four banks governs Australia’s finance, and Australians have grown to accept their behaviour. The banks tell us their questionable behaviour is for “the minimization of risk, and the stability of the sector”, and we accept that. Similarly, many merchants have been abusing their ability to charge credit card surcharges, gouging consumers who choose to use credit.
Over the last few months, the Government began to crack down on this behaviour. So have the people. We realize the ridiculousness of these status quos. Most recently, Westpac has placed an increase of 20 basis points onto their consumer mortgage accounts. This was implemented after the RBA made several interest rate cuts in the last year; the most recent being an interest rate cut in May by 25 basis points, down to 2%. In the same vein, Government regulators have ordered major banks to increase their capital relative to loans; a method to insure that the banks do not collapse as a result of a housing bust.
Instead of lowering their profits, they have passed the costs of this regulation onto the consumer. I think I speak for most Australians when I say I find this ridiculous.

In contrast to many other OECD countries, Australia is governed by these banking oligarchs. They gobbled up our smaller banks after the GFC and we were left with a sector that lacks any sort of competition. The disparity between term deposit interest payments and mortgage interest payments is shocking and unfair. Lack of competition and complete market dominance almost always leads to inefficient solutions. These are solutions where consumers feel helpless, but have to rely on them. I think this is changing, at least I’d like to hope so.

On a positive note, it doesn’t have to be the businesses that change. In this circumstance, I think the technology is changing. Peer to Peer lending or marketplace lending as it is also known globally is allowing us to access a whole range of financial instruments that weren’t available before, and prices that were not available before.

We’re able to acquire trade credit, debtor financing, personal loans, car loans and business loans on reasonable terms. We’re able to choose from a range of different offers from competing platforms, and choose the most competitive option.

P2P lending is disruptive, and it’s here to stay.