Australia is a unique and diverse country. It is multicultural and multiracial, and even though it covers a physically large land mass, the population only consists of about 22 million people. The most popular region is the east coast, including the states of New South Wales and Victoria. Central Australia, and most of Western Australia is very remote, primarily desert, and very few people live there.
One concern about living, travelling and banking in Australia is the great distances you will need to travel between cities. Even small towns, can be located several hours away. For this reason, technology is very valuable, and essential for doing business, and for most Australian banking. In remote areas you may not have access to a bank or a public Internet facility. Mobile Internet is useful for banking, however you must always check the reception areas before you start travelling. These issues should be discussed with your Australian mobile broadband provider.
Australians speak English, and if you need banking information communicated in other languages, you should be able to access this in the major cities, through the major banks. Australians are used to visitors who speak little English, and facilitators such as interpreters and banking information in your home language can be provided on request.
The Australian Banking System
Australia has an advanced banking system, including national banks, state-specific banks and credit unions. Other companies, such as insurance companies also provide some banking services. Different banks target different demographics, and some may have more products to suit a family who is trying purchase a home, while another bank will be more focused on business customers. If you need to find the right product for you, a number of trustworthy brokerage or comparison services are in operation.
Australia was the first country in the world to use polymer plastic to create a complete set of bank notes. These assist in reducing the chance of counterfeiting and are highly durable. Australia’s coins include 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces, and also 1 and 2 dollar coins. 1 and 2 cent coins were faded out in the 1980’s. The notes include 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar denominations.
Major Banks in Australia
Westpac Banking Corporation
Westpac was Australia’s first bank, as it used to be called The Bank of New South Wales after it was first established in 1817. Westpac is a multinational bank with international services, home lending services, and business services. It has a large network of almost 3000 ATMs which is convenient and cost effective. We have listed the main Westpac Branches.
National Australia Bank
National Australia Bank is another major Australian bank with over 1,800 service centers. This bank operates on an international level, including the United Kingdom and the United States. It is ranked in the top 20 largest banks in the world and operates in across 10 countries.
ANZ stands for the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and traces back to Sydney in 1835. It is the third largest bank in Australia, with a strong interest in retail and commercial clients. In 2008, ANZ was considered the most sustainable bank in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia includes other brands, including Bank West and Colonial First State Investments. It was established by the Australian government in 1911, however it was privatized in 1996. The Commonwealth Bank has the most ATMs of any of the Australian banks, which makes it convenient for transactions in remote areas.
Smaller Australian banking organisations
Smaller banking organisations, compete with the larger ones. If you are intending on banking in Australia for an extended period, it could be worth looking at the smaller offerings. You can save money on home loans, fees and receive a more personalised service, however many target niche markets may require you to be an Australian citizen or belong with a particular employment industry before you can bank with them.