Update: Big Four Banks Merge Online

Any exclusion of smaller Australian banks to the recently announced AusMarkets.com portal would be of concern, said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

A spokesperson for the ACCC said the commission would be "concerned if it was found that smaller banks had not been asked to join the venture" and had been "locked out".

The four big banks -- ANZ, National Australia Bank, Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank -- announced yesterday that they would form an electronic portal to distribute wholesale financial products and services online.

An independent company would operate and manage the portal.

The multi-contributor, multi-product platform would provide corporate clients with a single access point to use wholesale financial market products offered by any of the banks.

The portal will go live in 2001 focusing on money market and debt securities, with interest rate derivatives and foreign exchange products scheduled for launch later next year.

While AusMarkets.com will initially be aimed at the local market, the banks intend to open the site to overseas businesses during 2001.

The spokesperson said the ACCC was seeking further information about the venture and would not make further comment until fuller details of the online merger were clear.

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