Following ACCC intervention, Australians get greater access to accurate FX calculators

Maria Nikolova

Following the ACCC’s intervention, more than half of the 26 prominent online FX suppliers reviewed now have an online calculator on their website or improved their existing calculator.

Easier comparisons are now available for foreign currency conversions, according to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) which last year published the findings of an inquiry showing that Australians overpay for FX services.

ACCC today reported that people who use FX services now have greater access to accurate online calculators to help compare prices, although greater transparency is still needed at a time when many Australians are sending money to family and friends overseas.

The ACCC’s Foreign currency exchange services inquiry report, released in September last year, found many Australian consumers were paying too much for FX services. The report found that for just two currencies, USD and GBP, individual consumers who used the big four banks to send international money transfers (IMTs) could have collectively saved about AUD150 million in 2017-18 if they had instead used a lower priced IMT supplier.

One of the major issues the report identified was that many of the online calculators available to consumers to calculate foreign currency conversions did not include the full price of FX transactions, including fees. Further, some suppliers did not even make an online calculator available to consumers looking to find price information.

Following the ACCC’s intervention and subsequent review this year, more than half of the 26 prominent online FX suppliers reviewed now have an online calculator on their website or improved their existing calculator. This will make it easier for consumers looking to compare the total price of FX services from different suppliers.

Several of the suppliers reviewed have said they are working to meet the ACCC’s guidance. The ACCC will continue to engage with those suppliers it considers to be falling short of best practice.

The ACCC’s report also included best practice guidance for FX suppliers to improve how prices are displayed in stores, to make them more accurate and easier to understand and compare. The ACCC will resume engagement with the sector on this issue as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and suppliers return to normal operations.

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