What can the big four offer your business?
September 12, 2012
All the big banks say they’re the best for small business, but they also all want a piece of this large part of the market. To cut through the confusion, here’s an in-depth look at what each bank claims to have to offer SMBs.
Commonwealth Bank prides itself on its personalised, local service from expert business bankers who understand where you’re coming from as a business owner. It has dedicated business bankers working across the country’s largest branch network.
Realising that businesses don’t just work 9 to 5, it also offers a 24/7 phone service answered by a real person, with no answering machines.
In terms of online banking, the CBA claims NetBank is Australia’s best online banking service and also offers CommBiz, a premium online transaction service with around-the-clock transactional capabilities and access to your business accounts.
A number of business accounts and cards are offered:
• Business Transaction Account
• Premium Business Cheque Account
• Business Online Saver
• Business Debit MasterCard.
Its Better Business Package is a flexible banking solution that works to simplify your everyday business banking. It gives you everything you need to accept and make payments, manage business transactions, make the most of cash on hand, and access extra funds when you need them.
Its free Women in Focus program is dedicated to inspiring, informing and connecting women across Australia – whatever they do, wherever they bank. Through an online community, events and partnerships, Women in Focus provides a way for women to share inspirational stories, celebrate achievements, promote their business and connect with likeminded women.
The Commonwealth Bank website contains a wealth of information about starting, financing or growing your business, how to write a business plan and even find government grants.
If you want to switch your business bank account to Commonwealth Bank, you can do so using its online service.
NAB shouts about its commitment to small business and is the sponsor of the National Small Business Summit.
Its small business bankers are available locally in branches to assist you with all aspects of small business banking , including your business and personal finances. This means you only need to speak to one person for all of your financial needs. Because the small business bankers have the authority to approve loans, NAB says the person you speak to is the person who can help.
As a small business owner, when you bank with NAB, you also have access to their specialists from Transactional Banking, Asset Finance, Property, International Trade and Financial Planning who can provide you with advice on any of your specialised business needs. And for additional support, there’s the Small Business Support Team, available to help for the times you can’t get to a branch.
Its website has a great selection of free how-to guides on topics from how to use cashflow forecasts to selecting asset finance for your business.
The bank offers a range of rewards cards with Qantas, Velocity and flybuys points, a low fee card and a gold card. However, it doesn’t offer an online switching service.
According an NAB spokesperson, here are the 3 reasons why small business owners should bank with NAB
1. Understanding your business
As Australia’s largest business bank we take time to truly understand your businesses needs and the sector your business is operating in. We recognise that your bank should be more than just your finance provider – they should be your business partner, taking the time to understand your business, your industry and your personal and business aspirations.
2. Personal and business banking needs
Unique to small businesses is the intertwining of personal and business banking needs. This means that, unlike consumers or large corporates, small business operators require their banker to advise them on all aspects of their banking needs; not one or the other. That’s why we have dedicated small business bankers who have the authority to make decisions related to both business and personal banking needs.
Recognising that small business are often time poor and often require support outside of normal hours, NAB customers can also access our small business banking team seven days a week. Flexibility and accessibility of their bank are key concerns of small business owners. We provide this by answering calls within 60 seconds, giving small business people the rapid service they need.
At Westpac you can bundle your business products and save money. You start with a Westpac Business One transaction account plus Business Online Banking and a Business Debit MasterCard. Then add at least one of their eligible business credit cards or an eligible EFTPOS facility or Easy BPAY. Then for only $17 per month, you enjoy the benefits of the Business Value Bundle:
• Access your cash via a full service transaction account with 24/7 access to funds through Business Online Banking and your Business Debit MasterCard.
• Be more in control of your cash with a range of selected EFTPOS and Easy BPAY solutions that let you accept payments fast
• Manage cashflow better – up to 45 days interest free on purchases when using your eligible business credit card.
• Improve your business know-how by taking advantage of a 50 percent discount off the standard fee on short courses in financial education with the Davidson Institute.
• Avoid costly mistakes with free online access to legal and tax advice.
Ruby Connection is its free community where professional and business women can connect, learn, exchange ideas, gain insight and be inspired, online and at events. Ruby Connection facilitates an interactive online community designed to promote and support Australian women, no matter what they do or where they are.
ANZ has dedicated Small Business Specialists. It also sponsors The Small Business Hub on LinkedIn where you can connect online with other business owners.
No matter what stage your business is currently at, or what size it is, their extensive knowledge and years of experience can help you. Each business customer is assigned a dedicated ANZ Business Banker who will get to know your company, and develop opportunities for you.
You’ll also get to take full advantage of ANZ’s global network that spans across 32 markets and serves over 8 million customers worldwide.
With over 40 years of experience in the Asia-Pacific region, ANZ claim it is the only Australian bank with a significant Asia-Pacific presence and can easily connect you with local bankers across 14 markets.
At the same time, it claims to be a home-grown bank . So while it has grown into a bank big enough for overseas operations, it will also continue working closely with you as a local bank should. It says it will take the time to understand the ins and outs of your business.
What do you think?
Be the first to comment, add a new comment.
Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.
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Singapore’s ocbc acquires commonwealth bank of australia’s indonesian unit for $142 million.
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Helen Wong, group CEO of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. (OCBC).
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., Southeast Asia’s second-largest lender by assets, has agreed to acquire Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Indonesian unit for approximately A$220 million ($142 million).
OCBC, which makes up the bulk of the billionaire Lee family's fortune, will acquire CBA's 99% stake in PT Bank Commonwealth. The deal is expected to close in the second or third quarter of next year, subject to regulatory approvals. OCBC plans to acquire the remaining 1% stake of PT Bank Commonwealth from other shareholders, the lender said in a statement Thursday.
The deal is the first acquisition by OCBC since Helen Wong took over as group CEO in 2021, becoming the first woman to lead the Singapore-based bank. Under the leadership of Wong, who made Forbes Asia ’s Power Businesswomen list in 2021 , OCBC has positioned itself to capture increased business flows between China and Southeast Asia.
“The acquisition plan aims to strengthen and complement OCBC Indonesia's capabilities in providing comprehensive financial services, both for the consumer and SMEs segments,” Parwati Surjaudaja, president-director of OCBC Indonesia, said in a statement .
OCBC is interested in PT Bank Commonwealth as it has more than 1.2 million customers and total assets of A$1.8 billion as of June. It concentrates on retail and small and medium-sized enterprises, and has wealth management and automotive financing operations, which can be leveraged to grow OCBC Indonesia’s products and services.
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OCBC Indonesia is the fourth largest private sector bank by assets in Indonesia, with a total asset of 247 trillion rupiah ($16 billion) at the end of September. It also has disbursed 144.7 trillion rupiah of loans in the same period, an increase of 10% compared to same period last year.
For CBA, the sale of PT Bank Commonwealth—a non-core business for Australia’s largest bank—is part of a broader strategy of focusing on retail banking in Australia and New Zealand.
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The inside account of how Commonwealth Bank tried to bury the scandal that sparked a royal commission
It was one of the strangest phone calls I've ever received. A public relations officer for a big legal firm was on the other end of the line, asking if I'd been ringing some of their clients.
But somebody had, and they'd been impersonating me.
It was one of many dirty tricks that was used over a period of more than four and a half years while I reported on one of the biggest financial scandals Australia has ever seen.
Smear campaigns, intimidation, threats, fake identities and surveillance. This is not how you would expect blue chip companies to behave when their reputations are threatened.
But all these tactics were employed by the Commonwealth Bank to shut down a scandal that exposed forgery, fraud and a cover up that culminated in a royal commission into the entire financial services industry.
The victims were the CBA's customers; some were retirees, others young people with home ownership dreams. The bank had promised to invest their money in suitable products but when the financial market tanked — they watched in horror as their money evaporated.
If the bank couldn't quash the unfolding scandal, it would put at risk the business model, billions of dollars in revenue, reputations and careers.
No one was off limits: industry insiders, former customers and journalists, including me.
But all the money and mudslinging proved no match for whistleblowers, who when they saw wrongdoing, refused to stay silent.
It is the same courage and moral conviction that drives ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle and Afghan war crimes whistleblower David McBride, who risked everything to expose wrongdoing in the organisations they worked. Their refusal to stay silent could ultimately cost them their freedom.
The dirt file
The story — and the banking scandal — began with a phone call in 2013 from Nationals senator John "Wacca" Williams.
"Hey Adele … I've been talking to a whistleblower from the Commonwealth Bank with a big story here, can you give me a call when you're available please."
The whistleblower's name was Jeff Morris.
Morris told me he had gone to the corporate watchdog ASIC and when it failed to act, he approached politicians and the media.
He believed the misconduct was too important to ignore as it would open up compensation to customers and also shake trust in Australia's banking system.
The story ran on the front page of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald in June 2013 and it challenged everyone's thinking about our most venerable and largest bank.
Morris had revealed how the bank's business model in its wealth management division was driven by commissions and bonuses. It promoted bad behaviour such as switching customers from the safety of term deposits into riskier mortgage funds so the team could be paid higher commissions and bonuses.
Morris said it wasn't just one dodgy financial planner, the problems were systemic.
To qualify as a financial planner no experience was required. In fact a year 11 or 12 high school education wasn't needed, just a one week course.
"The qualifications they had were a joke," Morris said. "It was much more difficult to qualify as a hairdresser than as a financial planner."
The bank's wealth management subsidiaries were worth billions of dollars and it wasn't about to have the industry's dirty secrets aired or the conflicted business model unpicked.
It's why it fought so hard to kill the stories over several years. The initial attempt was a smear campaign aimed at undermining Morris.
After the first story appeared a CBA executive called myself and colleague Chris Vedelago with a clear message: Don't trust Jeff Morris. He's a liar, mentally unstable and the bank had a dirt file on him as high as the ceiling.
When we asked to see the dirt file, the CBA executive went to water.
"It was a bunch of excuses about why he couldn't do it, as though we were supposed to take his word for it, that we were making a huge mistake and that this person was unreliable," Vedelago recalled.
The bank's spin doctors upped the campaign, briefing politicians and newspaper columnists from rival media outlets that the stories were a beat-up and Morris was little more than a disgruntled employee with mental issues.
But many in the banking industry weren't buying it and tip-offs continued to flood in of other questionable behaviour and breaches of the law. Even the former treasurer Joe Hockey's mother-in-law was a victim of the bank, losing a fortune from shoddy financial advice.
'Really dirty play'
Over the next 12 months, the bank's PR machine was on a mission to deny, deflect and discredit the stories by constantly attacking the articles and me.
Sean Aylmer, then a senior executive of Fairfax Media, the owner of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review (now owned by Nine), said it wasn't uncommon for corporations to complain directly to him about controversial stories.
But he said the CBA took complaining to another level.
"A lot of dirty play going on in that whole story, really dirty play," Aylmer said.
One call gobsmacked him. It was from a senior executive who questioned my integrity.
"He was saying, 'we have emails that demonstrate that Adele has been taken down the wrong path. We're not even sure that Adele is truly honest in what she is doing and saying'," he said.
Aylmer said what amazed him most was that the bank was reading from my private correspondence. "These were discussions between Adele and others. They weren't emails to the Commonwealth Bank, they were emails to sources," he said.
"It was almost like someone leaking information to the Commonwealth Bank from our side of the fence."
I don't know how the bank got access to my private email correspondence but it had spun their contents into something that could be used to undermine me to my bosses.
Aylmer remembers Greg Hywood, chief executive of Fairfax at the time, raising concerns around a particular whistleblower I'd spoken to.
"There'd been suggestions that he had been receiving payment for things and that he had mental health challenges," he said. "And Greg put it pretty sternly 'how are you going to make sure that Adele has got this right?' And he was worried. I was certainly worried."
Every week operatives from the bank called him with fresh complaints.
"It was all about discrediting you. They were totally trying to undermine your reputation, your source's reputation" he said.
Never far away from the calls was the threat of the bank pulling its advertising from the newspapers, which amounted to millions of dollars a year. A few years later they made good on those threats and pulled ads across all the Fairfax mastheads.
Aylmer remembers how a senior CBA executive brought up the power dynamic in the lead-up to their conversation.
"The first thing the person said to me was, 'now Sean, this isn't about our commercial relationship with Fairfax' and I kind of thought at the time, 'that's funny, I'm editorial, I don't have anything to do with the commercial relationship with Fairfax'," he recalled.
And that's how power works: having a direct line to senior media executives to influence outcomes. CBA wielded a lot of power and it used it to lobby politicians, intimidate and manipulate the media and industry associations.
In June 2014 a senate inquiry recommended the government establish a royal commission after finding thousands of Australians had lost their life savings due to shoddy financial advice from the CBA. It said the bank needed to set up a proper compensation scheme for its many victims.
A week later the bank apologised and agreed to set up a scheme, hoping it would be enough to stop a royal commission.
But by late 2015, a year after the compensation scheme had been launched, only 19 customers had received a payout.
Another whistleblower emerged, this time speaking up about the scheme. CBA employee Russell Phillips had been hired to review files for the compensation scheme and was becoming increasingly concerned it was a sham.
"This was a program built to minimise the cost to the bank of previous bad advice," he said.
Phillips had examples of customers who had lodged legitimate claims but had been knocked back for compensation.
His plan was to expose the scheme by appearing at a fresh Senate inquiry into financial advice that had been called by Labor senator Sam Dastyari.
When the bank got wind of what he was about to do, its spin doctors hit the phones.
One of the calls was to a senator on the committee, Nationals senator John "Wacca" Williams, who was surprised by the early morning call.
"I've had a call [saying] this witness is not genuine, he has mental health problems and that he's out to cause trouble," the phone call to Williams said.
Williams was concerned by what he had heard and grilled Phillips about his mental state at the inquiry.
"Did you find … a lot of mental pressure on you?" and "did you seek any help" and "how often did you do that?" he asked Phillips at the inquiry.
Phillips answered the questions but was horrified when he later learned that the bank had used his medical history — four visits over four weeks to a psychologist — to try and discredit him.
"I don't think disappointed is the right word, it's a stronger emotion than that. It's disgusting," he said.
"I would never, ever, ever disclose medical information to anyone else … I don't understand why an employer would do that."
The bank's spin doctors had made a direct call to a senator sitting on a powerful committee for the sole purpose of discrediting, undermining and influencing a witness' testimony. It was designed to rattle the witness. It was a blatant abuse of its position and it partly worked.
'This bloke's false'
As more and more insiders came forward, the bank tried many different tricks.
One of them was targeting customers, either attempting to crush them into silence or paying them off before a story appeared.
Some were privately defamed to politicians and other media.
James Kessel was one of the victims subjected to a smear campaign by the CBA. He had been a CBA customer for decades and in his mid-forties he had a heart attack and almost died.
Kessel had tried to claim on his insurance policy but it was rejected on the basis his heart attack wasn't severe enough, despite being brought back by a defibrillator.
I had interviewed James Kessel, who was due to appear on Four Corners and feature in an expose to be printed in Fairfax newspapers.
"If I'd have died … it makes me wonder would [CommInsure] have found a way to get out of that as well, you know, like 'he's not dead enough,'" Kessel said.
Kessel appeared in a promo for Four Corners and hours before the story went to air John Williams received a call from the Commonwealth Bank.
"This bloke's false. He's a fraud and so is his brother. They haven't had heart attacks at all," Williams was told by the bank.
"I was just stunned by that call," Williams said.
The Commonwealth Bank executive had not only claimed Kessel was lying but the family were a bunch of insurance fraudsters.
The Commonwealth Bank executive didn't count on the fact that we had managed to track down the doctor who brought Kessel back from the dead with the help of a defibrillator.
"If he was not given a shock … he would be dead," the doctor said.
Williams called back the next day and said, "some fake heart attack," to which the bank operative shrugged it off and boldly said it was an anonymous tip.
That's also how power works. It's having the clout to call politicians and regulators to give them off the record briefings to try and change perceptions.
A fake Adele
The skulduggery didn't end there. A new whistleblower had come forward about unethical practices at its life insurance arm, CommInsure.
Dr Ben Koh was the chief medical officer and in March 2016 he revealed that sick and dying patients were being denied payouts at their most vulnerable moment.
A practice that had been going on for years.
Koh alleged the life insurer regularly "lost" medical files; that it spied on customers for the purpose of knocking back claims; and that it used outdated medical definitions to avoid paying out legitimate claims.
Other concerns raised included managers cherry-picking medical opinions to get out of paying claims or requesting that Koh overrule colleagues' medical opinions to reject claims.
The fresh scandal resulted in an inquiry by the corporate regulator into the allegations.
CBA's PR machine followed its usual rules — conducting off the record conversations with journalists, politicians and investors in an attempt to undermine the scandal and those blowing the whistle.
I received an out-of-the-blue phone call from a public relations manager from one of the big class action law firms, who was calling me to see if I'd been calling one of the law firm's clients, who was also a claimant from CommInsure.
The PR manager said the client had told her that "'Adele from Four Corners' had called, reciting her medical history chapter and verse, including that she suffered from depression and had been a victim of domestic violence."
I was told that Fake Adele had suggested the client speak to a different lawyer Michael Bates and she'd take care of arranging air fares, accommodation and expenses.
Fake Adele had access to CommInsure customers and was encouraging them to speak to Bates.
Bates was the lawyer acting for Dr Koh and two CommInsure clients suing the bank.
I called Bates and he told me a senior bank executive had told him a similar disturbing story that Adele had been calling and threatening a claims manager to hand over internal documents.
"It's the stuff of movies. A John Grisham novel or a movie," Bates said.
Whoever was behind Fake Adele was trying to discredit me, suggesting I was a client thief and that I had such poor ethics that I was prepared to ring and terrorise a victim of domestic violence — not to mention illegally accessing private health records.
We never did get to the bottom of who was impersonating me. At the time Fairfax newspapers wrote a sternly worded letter to the Commonwealth Bank. There was no meaningful response.
The Commonwealth Bank told the ABC these events occurred some time ago, before the 2018 Royal Commission in the financial services industry and the APRA inquiry into the bank that same year.
The bank said it is now a significantly different business and has made major changes to its culture, policies and procedures.
"In particular we focus on encouraging staff to speak up if they have concerns, updated our processes to respond to any issues they raise and provide the necessary support to our people where they do so," a spokesperson said.
A royal commission called
As the clock started to tick louder for a royal commission, lobbyists were in full force, saying a royal commission would damage the banking sector's reputation internationally and potentially undermine stability. They were lines parroted by members of parliament, including the then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his treasurer Scott Morrison.
The banks spent millions of dollars on campaigns and advertising as well as briefing journalists and politicians.
But in November 2017 the Turnbull government bowed to pressure and called a royal commission into the financial services industry.
The royal commission had a tight budget and a short timeline but it packed a punch.
Stories of greed, stealing from the dead, billions of dollars ripped from retirement savings, dud life insurance policies and systematic gouging were reported daily.
At the end of it, the industry was battered and bruised and ready to rise after profound structural change. The banks sold their life insurance and financial planning businesses, executives were humiliated and some lost their high-paying jobs as share prices tanked.
Over almost five years the CBA had used every possible lever — dirty and otherwise — to kill a story that would reveal one of the darkest periods in Australia's banking history.
It called in favours, heavied media bosses, launched sophisticated and sustained smear campaigns and had powerful politicians and regulators on speed dial.
At the end of the day, the voiceless were heard and the bank was caught red-handed.
But in the current environment, a dark cloud is hanging over whistleblowing after war crimes whistleblower David McBride and ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle were charged with criminal offences which could see them facing years in prison if found guilty.
McBride's trial begins on Monday.
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Since its founding in Los Angeles in 2005, Commonwealth Business Bank, better known as CBB, has grown and flourished in its mission to build long-term financial relationships, one customer at a time.
As a community bank offering a wide range of deposit and lending products and services to mid-sized businesses in the multi-ethnic communities of Southern California and beyond, CBB prides itself on providing unparalleled value to our customers, shareholders, community, and employees. We have achieved this vision by adhering to our five guiding principles: "Professional," "Personal," "Principled," "Passionate," and "Proud."
Today, CBB operates ten retail branches in California, Texas, and Hawaii, four Loan Production Offices (LPO) serving the west coast and southeastern, and boasts over $1.8 billion in assets.
Learn more about how we give back to the community , or consider a rewarding future for yourself with CBB on our careers page.
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Commonwealth Bank of Australia to sell 99% stake in Indonesian unit to OCBC
Thursday, 16 Nov 2023
Singapore's bank OCBC raises 2023 target, third-quarter net profit beats forecast
Flat earnings for australia’s cba in 1q, hologram lets marcos speak in singapore during us visit.
COMMONWEALTH Bank of Australia (CBA) said on Thursday it has agreed to sell a 99% stake in its Indonesian unit PT Bank Commonwealth (PTBC) to a local unit of Singapore's second-largest bank OCBC.
Australia's biggest lender will sell its stake in PTBC to PT Bank OCBC NISP for about A$220 million ($142.19 million).
The decision came in more than eight months after PTBC was hit by a cyber attack involving unauthorized access of project management software.
CBA expects the sale to be broadly neutral to its common equity tier 1 ratio - a closely watched measure of spare cash - which stands at 11.8%, as at Sept. 30.
The sale is expected to close in the second or third quarter in 2024, subject to regulatory approvals. - Reuters
Tags / Keywords: Commonwealth Bank , PT Bank Commonwealth , OCBC
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Australia's CBA says home loan margins have stabilised, shares up
A view of a Commonwealth Bank of Australia branch in Sydney, Australia, April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su Acquire Licensing Rights
- Q1 cash profit A$2.50 bln vs A$2.45 bln analyst estimate
- Q1 home loan balances decline A$4.5 bln
- Q1 net interest margin lower due to competition in deposits
Nov 14 (Reuters) - Commonwealth Bank of Australia's home loan book slumped A$4.5 billion ($2.9 billion) in the September quarter as it shied away from cut-throat competition but the nation's biggest lender said margins had stabilised, sending its shares higher.
The update from the originator of a quarter of Australia's A$2 trillion mortgage market suggests a strategic change is paying off: CBA (CBA.AX) was first among Australia's major banks to stop luring borrowers with cash handouts and what it called uneconomic lending rates - now it says its margin compression has stopped.
Earnings reports from Australia's other so-called Big Four lenders ANZ (ANZ.AX) , Westpac (WBC.AX) and National Australia Bank (NAB.AX) showed narrowing margins in recent months as interest rate hikes since May last year spur a rush of refinancing .
CBA said cash profit was A$2.5 billion ($1.6 billion) for the quarter, which was 3% better than a consensus estimate for the period, according to data aggregator Visible Alpha.
CBA's shrinking mortgage book "reflects a disciplined approach to pricing which ensures marginal shareholder returns remain above the cost of capital in a highly competitive market", the bank said in its limited first-quarter update.
"Home lending margins stabilised in the quarter," it added, without giving figures.
Shares of CBA rose as much as 1% in morning trading, in line with the broader market (.AXJO) as analysts welcomed the better-than-expected margin outcome and a smaller-than-expected provision for potential loan impairments.
"With many trends similar to peers, we think the market will take the slightly better NIM outcome well," said Citi analyst Brendan Sproules in a client note, using the acronym for net interest margin.
Commenting on the bank's stabilising home loan margins, E&P Financial analyst Azib Khan said that "it would be helping on this front that CBA has been willing to forgo market share".
For the year to September, CBA said it grew its mortgage book at 0.7 times the rate of the overall mortgage industry.
($1 = 1.5686 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Himanshi Akhand in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Shri Navaratnam
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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CBA business banking boss lays down his plan to beat NAB
The Commonwealth Bank is targeting $1 billion in invoice financing as it returns to the controversial sector as part of a bid to compete with the market leader, National Australia Bank, in business lending.
The broader strategy would include accelerating referrals from CBA’s dominant retail bank and extending new payments services including its Powerboard platform, its head of business banking, Mike Vacy-Lyle, said.
CBA group executive for business banking Mike Vacy-Lyle says the new supply chain financing offering, Stream, is “going to plan”. Renee Nowytarger
CBA has invested an additional $600 million into its business bank over the past three years as looks to diversify away from retail mortgages, where growth is more challenging. The bank has the highest market share in payments terminals and business transaction accounts, while NAB remains the largest lender with $288 billion in loans compared to CBA’s $254 billion.
Debtor financing – also known as invoice financing – allows a small business to access funds off unpaid invoices, with the account receivable used as security for the short-term loan. NAB offers the working capital product, but on the whole, major banks have underinvested in the technology used to assess the risk, opening the market to specialist players such as Scottish Pacific, Octet and, before its collapse, Greensill.
Several fintechs including Timelio and Waddle – which CBA has partnered with for its offering – are also in the market, but CBA’s move shows it is an area it now wants to compete in.
CBA’s supply chain financing offering is known as Stream Working Capital, and Mr Vacy-Lyle said the departure of one of the bank’s executive managers of working capital, Mark Cleaver, was no reflection on its plans. Mr Cleaver’s exit came shortly before its executive general manager of small business lending, Clare Morgan, left for ANZ in December.
“Stream is going to plan, and our working capital products are broader than Stream,” Mr Vacy-Lyle said. Integrating the technology into the major cloud accounting platforms MYOB and Xero, which owns Waddle , had taken longer than expected, he said, but this had now been completed.
“We are now integrated into the two big platforms, which means we are ready to scale. This is not a $20 billion lending opportunity but, in CBA’s context, there is perhaps $1 billion of lending we want to go after,” he said.
Regarding risks in particular sectors, CBA’s impaired business loans are mostly in home building and construction, but he said better weather and improvements in supply chains, including falls in the price of shipping, would help the sector recover. In retail, the biggest risk remains too much inventory.
“The discretionary retailers we see in trouble are sitting on inventories, and we will see some discounting, which is a good thing in this overheated market,” Mr Vacy-Lyle told The Australian Financial Review.
With CBA’s interim results last week showing its 1.1 million business transaction accounts growing by 9 per cent year-on-year, Mr Vacy-Lyle said CBA had a strong picture of the financial health of future loan customers through the payments system. It will use this data to continue to lift its business loan book, which grew by an above-average $16 billion over the past year.
”When you have the business transaction account, you can almost reconstruct financial statements, which are a very good early indicator of stress in businesses,” he said. “It also gives you the opportunity to pre-approve credit for a business and let them know if they are entering a period of leaner cash flow and have a pre-approved working capital facility.”
CBA has sold 50,000 new payment devices, with 30 per cent going to new customers. These will help CBA execute an “ecosystem play” next year, whereby retail customers will be offered rewards through tailored marketing, based on their preferences and location. This points to CBA entering the market for internet retail search, a key driver of Afterpay’s growth.
“If your business banking customers could make offers to retail customers – and these might be small business that may have one outlet, say a coffee shop on the northern beaches [of Sydney] – we can create an environment where we provide offers for retail customers to get a good deal, and drive volume to the business,” said Mr Vacy-Lyle.
“That is the holy grail of the ecosystem play, and that is what we are working on.”
Among CBA’s target sectors are restaurants and healthcare. CBA bought the Doshii hospitality platform from Westpac’s venture capital fund in 2021. Mr Vacy-Lyle said it had signed up UberEats and was pursuing the other food ordering companies.
Meanwhile, the National Disability Insurance Scheme appointed CBA as payments partner late last year, and the bank is working up a mobile phone-based app to process claims in the health sector.
CBA’s new payments integrations service, called Powerboard, is in pilot and will be pushed out to the broader market after Easter. It allows customers to offer a broad range of payments services, including buy now, pay later and PayPal, without having to integrate different offerings. CBA plans to use it to extend its reach into other e-commerce services, such as logistics management, ticketing and multicurrency transactions.
“We will get architecture in e-commerce to compete at checkout with the likes of Shopify and Square and Stripe playing significantly in that space,” he said. “We will get infrastructure in place then roll out new solutions on it.”
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