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AUS: consumer guide to banking online

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, today launched two publications designed to provide a comprehensive consumer and business guide to banking on the internet.

'The Banking on the internet booklet looks at customer readiness in Australia, the response of Australian banks, the international perspective, what is on offer from what banks and information on security, privacy and the costs involved,' Senator Alston said.

'It provides vital information for anyone interested in this fast-growing area, in which Australia is a world leader. The future of banking and commerce lies online, but only if consumers can be confident that their rights will be protected.

'Consumer protection is the subject of the second publication - Banking on the internet: Facts for Consumers. This is the seventh in the Government's series of fact sheets for consumers considering or undertaking online transactions.

'The fact sheet provides the reader with a brief overview of services offered via internet banking, presents security and privacy considerations, and lists consumer bodies that can assist with disputes if they arise.'

Senator Alston told a Melbourne conference that, after an initially cautious start, Australia's banks had "shifted gears" in their pursuit of e-commerce.

'Online banking is becoming a fact of life. Given the quality and scale of the Australian banks' offerings in the personal banking area, and Australians' positive attitude to electronic banking facilities in the past, it is likely that Australia will lead the world in the uptake of electronic personal banking in the near future,' Senator Alston said.

'However, we only have to take our eyes off the game for a minute and we could lose any advantage we've achieved thus far. The threat, if we do not get this right, is enormous. No Australian company wants to wake up and find that their customers are buying goods from overseas based suppliers using the internet.'

The booklet was prepared by the Australian Bankers' Association, the Australian Information Industries Association and the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE). The booklet follows the earlier successful publication of Getting paid on the internet. A guide to business-to-business banking in Australia is also under preparation.

The fact sheet was prepared by NOIE and Treasury.

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