The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission this week granted interim approval of an ATM-sharing deal between Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Suncorp Metway Ltd. that will allow the institutions’ customers to access each other’s ATMs free of charge, an official at the regulator confirms. 

The competition regulator approved the ATM-sharing deal on June 12, and it is one of many such arrangements that have resulted from reforms to Australia's ATM system. Under the reforms, which the Reserve Bank of Australia introduced in March 2009, ATM operators may charge consumers directly for withdrawals instead of their card issuers. 

Once the deal between Bendigo and Suncorp Metway is finalized, the two banks will have will have a combined network of nearly 1,600 ATMs in Australia.

Bendigo previously inked a similar deal in which it added 160 ATMs within the nonbank ATM network Cash Plus to its approximately 1,000 ATMs in the country (see story). 

In granting its interim approval of the Bendigo and Suncorp Metway deal, the commission noted that the reforms potentially could give larger financial institutions a competitive advantage by virtue of the larger ATM networks they operate in which their cardholders pay no fees.

 “Recognizing this, the reforms provide for smaller financial institutions to develop arrangements such as those proposed by Suncorp Metway and the Bendigo & Adelaide Bank to facilitate access to direct fee-free transactions at a wider range of ATMs for their cardholders,” the regulatory noted in its decision.

 Brisbane-based Suncorp Metway is the fifth-largest banking group in Australia with more than AU$95 billion (US$83 billion or 66 billion euros) in assets. Bendigo-based Bendigo Bank is the retail arm of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group formed in November 2007 through the merger between Bendigo Bank and Adelaide Bank.

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