Bank Australia is a credit union that touts itself as Australia’s first customer-owned bank. They were founded in 1957. Formerly known as the CSIRO Co-operative Credit Society, in 2015 they brought together 72 credit unions and co-ops and changed their name to Bank Australia. Being a credit union means Bank Australia isn’t beholden to its shareholders, but to its customers themselves. They claim to return profits back to customers through competitive rates and low fees. They also believe in ‘clean money,’ meaning they refuse to lend to the coal, nuclear weapons, gambling, tobacco, or live animal export industries. Demonstrating their true commitment to improving the world around them, Bank Australia is also the only bank that owns a 927-acre Conservation Reserve in the Wimmera region of Western Victoria. Additionally, Bank Australia invests 4% of its after-tax profit to the Bank Australia Impact Fund, a resource that backs socially beneficial projects (“environmental sustainability, non-profit/social enterprise, gender equality, reconciliation, disability and educational disadvantage”)¹,².
Bank Australia currently has 23 branches spread across the country's major cities³.
All of this can make Bank Australia the ideal commercial banking solution for an ethically minded entrepreneur to bank with. The following article will walk you through the ins and outs of opening one.
Bank Australia offers a single business account, the Customer Access account. The account has no requirement on minimum or maximum deposits.
The Commercial Access account offers the following features.⁵
- Your money is available for withdrawal at any time.
- A VISA debit card and rediCARD (Red Roof Inn credit card) access
- Unlimited transaction for an $8 AUD per month fee
- Free cheque book
- Internet and phone banking
- Batch processing
- Around-the-clock fraud monitoring
- Options to set up direct debit and account transfers
As an organization that believes in “clean money,” Bank Australia is focused on what it calls “impact finance.” That means they prioritize opening accounts and giving loans to businesses focused on education and community building. So if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to start a business that has a positive social impact, Bank Australia probably shares your values and would like to work with you.
Bank Australia sets limits on different kinds of transactions you can make from your accounts. There’s a $50,000 limit on transactions between Bank Australia accounts. External and international transfers are capped at $2,000. Bpay transfers are limited to $10,000, or $2,000 using telephone banking. You can withdraw up to $1,000 at partner ATMs⁴.
The Commercial Access account comes with an interest rate of up to 0.01% per annum.
But if you’re looking for a business account from a groundbreaking company that is trying to take an innovative, fresh approach to financial services, you should consider TransferWise for Business. TransferWise is a UK-based financial services company with over 4 million customers globally that got its start offering a novel approach to international currency exchange. TransferWise doesn’t have brick-and-mortar stores. It operates completely online. That means they don’t have to deal with the immense overhead of staffing and maintaining physical stores, and can pass those savings on to the customer. TransferWise is known for offering one of the fairest exchange rates in the business. Instead of inflating their exchange rates with hidden fees, TransferWise gives you the true, mid-market rate. The mid-market rate is the exact midpoint between a currency pairs listed “buy” and “sell” prices. For an easy reference, you can see the mid-market exchange rate by Googling a currency pair. For more information on the mid-market rate, see this helpful article from TransferWise.
But TransferWise offers more than just currency exchange. They now offer their own suite of bank accounts, including TransferWise for Business, a modern business account ideally suited for businesses that handle transactions from abroad, not just the country they reside in, like Etsy stores.
Transferwise for Business allows you to pay invoices and vendors abroad, lets you receive payments for no extra fee, make batch payments, and integrates with numerous helpful third-party providers, such as Xero (accounting). TransferWise also created a suite of API calls that allows you to automate payments and workflow tasks.
The TransferWise business account provides you with banking details for many countries without requiring a local address: the US, UK, New Zealand, Australia, and the Eurozone.
Also, any international payments you make - be they to pay invoices, manage your payroll, or pay your employees - are made using that famous mid-market exchange rate. That makes the process of making international payments way cheaper than rival services like Paypal. (Also, your recipient doesn’t need to have a TransferWise account.)
TransferWise even offers its own debit card for its business account (and others), which allows you to pay in local currencies at no charge when traveling, withdraw up to $250 every day for up to 30 days (also free), convert your money at the real mid-market exchange rate, and convert your money to a different currency for only a small conversion fee (from 0.35% and 2.85%). For more information on the TransferWise debit card, check this link.
The required documents to open a Commercial Access account with Bank Australia vary by the type of organization you represent (LLC, corporation, sole trader). But all businesses are required to provide a Business Name Registration Certificate and their ABN.
To open a Commercial Access business bank account at Bank Australia, simply take the required documents to the nearest Bank Australia branch and ask to speak with an account manager. You can find a local branch with this handy branch locator.
You can also apply for a Commercial Access bank account using traditional mail. Simply fill out the application form online and submit it to Bank Australia by post. You can send the form to Bank Australia, Private Bag 12, Kew VIC 3101 Australia.
The Commercial Access business account from Bank Australia comes with the following fees.⁶ For comparison, we’ve also listed the cost of those same services with Transferwise for Business. You’ll find that they’re either cheaper or totally free.
|Fee||Bank Australia Cost||TransferWise Cost|
|Account creation fee||$0||$0|
|Business account monthly fee||$8||$0|
|Business name search||$15||$0|
|International bank draft||$30||$0|
|Visa & rediCARD cash advance||$3.50||$0 (Debit card issued for free)|
You can contact the Bank Australia customer support team by phone, email, or through Twitter. You can also send them a secure email through their website. You can also find them on Twitter at the handle @bankaust⁷.
Unlike Bank Australia, TransferWise has a dedicated business support team. You can contact them by writing an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling.
You can even contact Bank Australia using snail mail. Send any mail to the following address⁸.
Private Bag 12,
Kew VIC 3101 Australia
Bank Australia wants to serve entrepreneurs who are guided by higher principles, not just those who are trying to get rich. If you want to found a company that will have a positive impact on education or the environment, they want your business. But keep in mind, TransferWise does, too, and will most likely allow you to run your business with lower operating costs and a more favorable exchange rate. In a changing world, TransferWise will keep your money safe, and allow you to access it and transfer it cheaply. Both Bank Australia and Transferwise are pioneering modern, light, and user-friendly financial services.
Sources accurate as of 14 August 2019
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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