The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released for comment draft revised guidelines on implementation of section 66 of the Banking Act.
Sections 66 and 66A of the Banking Act place restrictions on the use of certain terms, for example ‘bank’, ‘banker’, ‘building society’ and ‘credit union’, when used in relation to a financial business.
The changes include:
- that credit unions and building societies may use the expressions ‘banker’ and ‘banking’ in marketing and branding material to describe their banking services, but may not use the term ‘bank’.
- that credit unions and building societies may not use the expressions the terms ‘banker’ and ‘banking’ as part of a registered corporate, business or trading name, or as part of an internet domain name by a credit union or building society; and
- that ADIs with a mutual structure may use the phrase ‘mutual banking’.
Credit unions and building societies seeking to operate as a bank
APRA will, unless there are special circumstances, grant an ADI that wishes to operate as a bank and that holds at least $50 million in Tier 1 capital an individual consent to use or assume the expressions ‘bank’, ‘banker’ and ‘banking’ on an unrestricted basis. Unrestricted consent allows the ADI to use the expressions ‘bank’, ‘banker’ and ‘banking’ in its company name and trading or business names and to describe or to advertise its business.
However, in circumstances where the ADI has previously operated as a credit union or building society, APRA will impose transitional conditions upon the grant of such consent.
APRA’s policy is that an ADI cannot simultaneously:
- operate as a bank with unrestricted consent to use the restricted expressions ‘bank’, ‘banker’ and ‘banking’; and
- operate as a credit union or building society .
Further, an ADI that was previously a credit union or building society and that now operates as a bank will be required to take appropriate steps to ensure that members, depositors, other customers and the general public are clearly aware that it is now operating as a bank. APRA may, for instance, grant unrestricted consent to use the restricted expressions ‘bank’, ‘banker’ and ‘banking’ on the condition that the ADI use the word ‘bank’ in its corporate, trading or business name for a finite period.
Bright Law can advise credit unions and building societies on the implications of the proposed changes.