Consumer and anti-gambling advocates flagged legal activeness within hours of the product being revealed at the bank’s full-year profit announcement in Brisbane yesterday, as revealed only by brisbanetimes.com.au today. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who stanchly opposes gaming, too spoke out about the account today. Mr Xenophon said he would prosecute authorities to clarify why the product was approved and he intended to raise the issue in Senate Estimates the following week. The Win Account, to be begun on November 15, will be the start of its type in Australia and is based on matching products in New Zealand.
It has few fees and offers an annual interest rate of 1 per cent, compared to most other savings accounts that offer about 4.5 per cent. Customers will be lured to the Win Account on the chance they can win the $20,000 first award in a monthly lottery, with an opening total prize pool of $30,000. When a minimal $250 is deposited, every dollar in the account will make a ticket in the lottery. But a client who deposits $1000 into the account stands to go down about $35 per year in interest. Consumer groups GetUp! and Choice, that are already pursuing class action versus 12 banks for what it claims are dishonest charges, have mooted equivalent action against Bank of Queensland.
Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said the account was “irresponsible” and would propel gambling, while GetUp! described it as an “dishonest” banking practise. The Salvation Army’s head of problem gambling services, Gerard Byrne, said the product was improbable to influence current problem gamblers, who generally did not save money. Still, it would ultimately propel fresh gamblers. Mr Liddy said yesterday the bank had created the account because it was not able to offer competitive interest rates compared to the prominent four. He opposed suggestions it would incite gaming. “It’s not gambling. You’re putting your money unharmed in a bank and being potentially rewarded … you’re not putting your money at risk at all,” Mr Liddy said. “It’s a out of the ordinary account that will attract to some people and some it won’t. We’re not trying to dictate to people what they do, people will make that choice. “All our market research and the behaviour of the merchandise in other markets suggests some people will adore it, others won’t touch it.”