Last month we released our draft report into retail fuel market study outlining our preliminary findings that the fuel market is not as competitive as it could be. As part of our report we outline some options we believe could improve competition in the market, including greater contractual freedom to make it easier for resellers to switch between suppliers and wider participation in the majors’ joint infrastructure. We are now consulting on our draft and would like to hear your views and the views of consumers. We have a short form on our website that can be used to provide feedback or alternatively you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Feedback is due 4pm, Friday 13 September. Our final report will be released in December.
Our Competition Matters conference was held in July for the first time in Auckland. It was a great success and I have really enjoyed hearing the feedback from those that attended. In addition to a great range of local and international speakers we released our 2019/20 priorities at the conference. We have four broad groups of priorities this year – enduring priorities, focus areas, connecting and legislative change. You can read more about the conference and our 2019/20 priorities in this edition of Bulletin.
In July, we appeared before the Finance and Expenditure select committee on proposed reforms to consumer credit legislation that we enforce (Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCF Act)). Lenders have reported difficulty in interpreting and applying the CCCF Act and enforcement can be complicated and resource intensive leading to investigations taking longer than we would like at times. We support reform that will improve the effectiveness of the Act, simplify it to some extent and make the Act easier to enforce.
Despite the challenges with the CCCF Act we have been an active enforcer in this area and in the last couple of months have announced that we have filed proceedings against NZ Fintech Limited (trading as Moola) and Pretty Penny for alleged breaches of the lender responsibility principles, Westpac for alleged disclosure breaches and Real Finance for alleged unreasonable fees. In addition, we signed a settlement agreement with Aotea Finance which will result in nearly $2.7 million being credited or refunded to thousands of borrowers after Aotea Finance failed to disclose all the key information in their credit contracts.
This month we will be launching our new Compliance and Investigations team within our regulation branch. Steve Bass (currently Compliance Manager in the Energy, Airports and Dairy team) will head-up this function providing an enhanced enforcement focus across our regulatory work. We aim to provide greater clarity on our enforcement approach, including by broadening the scope of revised Enforcement Response Guidelines to cover regulated industries. Our revised guidelines will be published later this year and we look forward to your feedback on them.