ACCC says money remitters are now fully transparent on pricing

  • By Elizabeth Fry

Australia’s antitrust regulator has confirmed that most money remitters are now giving consumers the tools they need to easily compare the total price of international money transfers although some are not playing by the rules. 

The Australian competition and consumer commission recently reviewed the take-up of its best practice guidance for money remitters. 

The best practice guidance recommends money remitters make reliable online price calculators available to consumers and that they clearly disclose their prices, including all relevant fees. 

The recent review follows an earlier check which found numerous remitters lagging best practice, according to the ACCC. 

The latest review, however, found that 12 out of the 15 prominent remitters reviewed were either adhering to best practice price disclosure or needed to make only minor improvements to achieve best practice. 

“We were pleased to see the improvement in price transparency across the money remittance sector that has occurred following the release of our 2019 report,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims. 

The upfront disclosure of relevant fees and the wider availability of customisable online price calculators were among the major improvements identified by the competition watchdog in its latest review. 

“This improvement is good news for the many consumers across Australia who transfer money overseas, who are now able to seek out more easily the best deal and potentially save significant amounts of money,” Sims said. 

Falling short 

However, despite the broad improvement observed by the ACCC, three remitters were identified as falling short of best practice. 

“Three remitters continued to provide inadequate transparency to their customers by only partially disclosing their fees, having unduly complex prices or lacking a customisable online price calculator,” said Sims. 

The ACCC has written to all three of these remitters to point out where they are falling short of best practice and expects to have further talks on this issue with each remitter. 

“We want to see all money remitters lift their game so that consumers can benefit from greater price transparency and ultimately, competition,” Sims said. 

“If we find those money remitters backtrack or do not implement best practice, we will work with the government on further measures to ensure there is appropriate transparency for consumers.” 

Two years ago, the ACCC found that consumers who used the major banks to send international money transfers in US dollars and UK pounds could have collectively saved about $150 million if they had instead used a cheaper money transfer provider.  

The ACCC noted that international money transfers are regularly used by a large cross-section of consumers, including those seeking to send money to family and friends overseas to help them deal with hardship arising from the pandemic. 

The regulator also noted that prices in Australia are high by global standards and remittances are a significant outlay for Australians with an estimated $21 billion sent from Australia each year.