Can We Bank on Interest
Going out to dinner one night recently, my wife and I were discussing topics for articles on Memories in this publication. “Why not write about banks?” she asked.
“Do you think there would be any interest?” I questioned. Thinking that there is very little interest in what the banks pay on savings. “I guess I could start on the old School Savings Accounts” I suggested. “The Commonwealth Bank now call such accounts Dollar Mite accounts, what they were called prior to Decimal Currency I can’t recall but perhaps it was simply School Savings Accounts” I thought later that it was a much simpler time without all the marketing. You called things what they were. Corn Flakes were simply Corn Flakes with no fancy names or titles. But I digress. Now, getting back to banks and savings - remember the old money boxes? The Commonwealth Bank had the metal money box based on the Commonwealth Bank Building in Martin Place, Sydney. I had a very early one which could only be opened with a can opener. Later ones came with a metal plug in the bottom which made it easier to extract the coins. The Bank of NSW (The first bank in Australia) had an elephant shaped money box.
Another point about banks was the introduction of credit cards. In the 1970s the banks got together to form Bankcard Australia. The only credit cards available prior to that were “Diners Club” and “American Express”. Remember the slogan “Don’t leave home without one”? When Bankcard was first issued they were sent to bank customers unsolicited. A consequence of this was that many customers did not know how to correctly use the credit cards and amassed some huge debts. In some cases Bankcards were issued to children and there were also reports of pets such as dogs also being issued with the cards. Some people had apparently opened up bank accounts in the name of their pets. I recall that my late father-inlaw would go to an electrical retailer to buy say a TV and would ask the sales assistant “How much for cash?” When given the cash price, my father-in-law would then produce his Bankcard thinking that it was the equivalent to cash. He would pay the Bankcard account when it was received not realising that the cash price offered by the retailer was to avoid the retailer paying the banks a commission on the use of the Bankcard.
We now talk of the “big 4” banks in Australia, but back in the 1960s there were more. Remember the Rural Bank of NSW, The Commercial Banking Co of Australia (CBA), the Commercial Banking Co of Sydney (CBC) or the English, Scottish and Australia Bank (ES&A) or going bank even further there was the State Savings Bank of NSW and also the Australian Joint Stock Bank plus many other banks operating in various states.
The State Savings Bank of NSW disappeared during the 1930s with its assets being absorbed into the Commonwealth Bank. In the late 60s and early 70s the big four banks got bigger and underwent, in some cases, a change in name after acquiring (or rather merging with some of the smaller banks). The National Bank of Australia became the National Australia Bank after it acquired the CBC. The Bank of NSW changed its name to Westpac ( for Western Pacific Bank) after it took over the CBA. ANZ which didn’t change its name however did not want to be outdone in the consolidation of banking in Australia acquired the E.S. & A bank and its subsidiary finance company ESANDA. Shortly after this banking consolidation there was also changes in the Permanent Building Societies where some also became banks and were subsequently acquired by the major big four banks. The Parramatta Permanent Building Society & United Permanent Building Society merged and was later taken over by a bank. St George Building Society acquired the Holroyd Building Society and then became the St. George Bank which is now part of the Westpac group which also includes the Bank of Melbourne. The NSW Permanent Building Society became the State Building Society and then merged with the Rural Bank of NSW to become the State Bank and was acquired by the Commonwealth Bank.
There are still some smaller players in the field however including the Bendigo & Adelaide Bank which trades as Bendigo Bank. And also there is the Bank of Queensland and the Suncorp Bank ( formerly Metway Bank) both Queensland-based.
Don’t forget to contribute your memories and also any old photographs that you would like to see published in this magazine’s “as we were” section.
Now what about your memories or your story?
You can write about childhood memories of where you may have grown up or moving into the area. Tell us about your school days. Where you worked, played or went on holidays; your first car; that first date, getting married or maybe the history of your family, group or organisation in the district. This page is about memories so tell us yours.
If you have some great memories, or perhaps you belong to a local community organisation and would like to share your organisation’s history or story with us then feel free to share your memories or experiences by writing to 17 Rose St, Baulkham Hills, NSW, 2153 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also share memories on any of my Facebook memories groups including Hills District Memories at facebook.com/groups/ Hills.memories or Hawkesbury Happenings & Memories at facebook.com/groups/Hawkesmemories.