Research released today by the National Australia Bank (NAB) and the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) shows that more than three million Australians don’t have access to a basic transaction account, a moderate amount of credit, or general insurance.
The report, Measuring Financial Exclusion in Australia, shows the problem is growing with the percentage of the Australian population excluded from accessing these basic services rising from 15.6% to 17.7% over the past two years.
The report found young adults, migrants and people in low-paying work were the most excluded.
In response to the report, National Australia Bank (NAB) is today calling on the banking industry to join it in taking action to give more Australians access to basic, essential financial products.
Working in partnership with Good Shepherd Microfinance as well as state and federal governments, the NAB’s Microfinance Program provides no interest and low interest loans schemes for individuals, micro-enterprise loans for small businesses and a savings incentive scheme.
To date, NAB has committed $130 million to microfinance initiatives and has one of the largest programs in the developed world.
Customers of NAB’s Microfinance Program vary from pensioners and single parents needing loans for cars and furniture, to students needing finance to pay for course fees.
In addition, more than 2.5 million customers use NAB’s Classic Banking account, the only fully-featured personal transactional account available to all customers, with no monthly account keeping fees.
Gavin Slater, Group Executive Personal Banking at NAB, says more needs to be done and is calling on the industry to join NAB and community organisations, in finding solutions for those caught in a cycle of poverty.
“Those that can’t access basic financial products find it difficult to manage basic payments and can be caught in a cycle of poverty,” said Mr Slater. “For example, when they’re faced with small emergencies, such as their car breaking down, they’ve got no means to repair or replace it.”
“We have led the industry in making banking more accessible and affordable, however financial exclusion is a deep, complex issue and it’s something the whole industry needs to tackle, if we’re going to achieve significant change.”
For more information about NAB’s Microfinance Program visit the website: www.nab.com.au