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Australian watchdog to probe barriers to switching lenders

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating the strategies that banks employ to "prevent or discourage" consumers from switching to other lenders, The Australian reported Oct. 24.

The watchdog is looking into what barriers consumers face when they want to switch banks, as well as "strategies businesses employ to take advantage of consumer inertia and really prevent or discourage people from leaving," commission executive general manager Marcus Bezzi told a Senate committee, according to the report.

The regulator will also investigate whether the price of switching banks is high and how difficult the process of switching is.

Meanwhile, the competition commission is developing an online tool with the Council of Financial Regulators that will give greater insight into the actual interest rates customers are charged. It is expected to be available in 2020.