14 October 1996 - 25 November 2001
ING Direct Melbourne Launch
23 February 2000,
Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne
Thank you Vaughn for the opportunity to say a few words this afternoon at the launch of the ING Direct Savings Maximiser.
As a Senator representing the State of Victoria I am glad you have chosen Melbourne for the launch.
ING has over the last decade or so, become a significant player in the financial sector within Australia.
From ING's initial direct investment in Mercantile Mutual in 1981, ING has proceeded to make other direct investments in Australia, as well as developing innovative financial products for the Australian consumer.
With the ING Direct Savings Maximiser we have another example of this.
I think it is fair to say that the scope for such innovation is in large part attributable to the Commonwealth Government's reforms of the financial sector.
These are designed to provide confidence in financial markets, while at the same time minimising any barriers to market access and contestability at a time of increasing changes brought about by factors such as technological change.
These reforms have attracted many new entrants into the financial services sector across a wide cross section of financial products.
Reforms that have brought many benefits to the Australian consumer.
It is particularly pertinent in this regard to compare the situation today, in terms of consumer access, with earlier periods.
Around 15 years ago there were only about 15,000 points of access to the financial system, and that was mainly through the traditional bank branches.
Ten years ago, there were only just over 30,000 points of access for the average consumer.
Today there are over 300,000 points of access to the financial system in this country of less than 20 million people, a tenfold increase over the past ten years.
Access to financial services is now also available to consumers by telephone or by the Internet, as well as through traditional banking networks, ATMs and EFTPOS.
The choice, and the competition that gives customers choice, is geared to giving customers control over how they do their banking, not the other way around.
The new banking environment is about providing banking products that give people increased choice, control and accessibility seven days a week, anytime, anywhere.
The change in consumer behaviour as a consequence of this is reflected in the fact that today less than 20 per cent of banking transactions are carried out in bank branches.
That is not to say that traditional branch banking is not an important part of banking in Australia.
While many customers are pleased to use the range of developing opportunities to bank electronically, others like to be able to deal with an issue over the counter in a branch.
It is important that the banking industry does cater for the full variety of customer needs.
With the bulk of transactions now being done electronically, the customer, not the bank, is deciding when and where they do their banking.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the three months to august 1999, 40 per cent of all adult Australians used a telephone to pay bills or to transfer funds.
Over the 12 months to August 1999, 41 percent of the adult population accessed the Internet, with 3 per cent of all adults using the Internet to pay bills or transfer funds.
The launch of products and services such as ING Direct Savings Maximiser will, I am sure, see a continued increase in the number of Australians accessing both telephone and Internet banking to meet their daily financial needs.
It is this type of innovation, in response to customer demand, which we are seeing today from ING Direct.
Such a competitive market environment means the consumer has an ever-increasing opportunity to shop around for the product and the service that best meets their financial need.
I would encourage all consumers of financial products to shop around and compare products and services, so as to make an informed choice.In closing I would like to wish ING Direct well in its launch today of the ING Direct Savings Maximiser.