Bank marketing programs such as Commonwealth Bank's Dollarmites will be banned in Victorian schools from 2021, Education Minister James Merlino has announced. Instead, students will participate in school-led programs designed to improve financial literacy.
At CHOICE, we've long campaigned for the scrapping of these programs, which are little more than thinly veiled marketing ploys designed to lock customers in from an early age.
Marketing programs like this have no place in schoolsAlan Kirkland, CHOICE CEO
We even awarded Dollarmites a Shonky in 2018 for its shifty tactics. These included thousands of Commonwealth Bank staff fraudulently manipulating Dollarmites youth accounts for personal financial gain, and inappropriate promotion of credit cards to primary-school-aged children.
"Marketing programs like this have no place in schools," says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland. "If we want children to develop financial literacy, this should be through evidence-based education, free from advertising."
Research we carried out in 2017 found that almost half (46%) of people got their first account with Commonwealth Bank and a third kept this account into adulthood.
"CHOICE has never been able to find any evidence that programs like the Dollarmites have any impact on long-term savings habits," says Kirkland.
"The only impact they have is to give the Commonwealth Bank a steady stream of young customers, many of whom stick with the Commonwealth later in life."
Victoria has led the way – now others must follow
At CHOICE, we welcome this decision and call on other state and territory governments to follow Victoria's lead and ban these marketing programs.
"The big banks are powerful institutions, so it's great to see a state government willing to take on the largest bank in Australia to do the right thing by kids," says Kirkland. "Now we need federal parliamentarians to show the same kind of courage and resist the banking lobby's calls to axe safe lending laws."