By Robert Carry

Almost half of all outstanding lending in Australia is held by just two banks, a new study has found.

Banking goliaths Westpac and Commonwealth Bank hold 48.9% and are gaining market share, CoreData-brandmanagment’s November Australian Mortgage Report
has revealed.

“The ‘big two’ will soon control more than half of all outstanding Australian mortgages by value, as market share continues to accelerate reaching 48.9% in September 2009, compared with 45% at the start of 2009,” said Tony Crossley, CoreData-brandmanagement head of mortgages and insurance.

Of the other two big four banks, National Australia Bank is addressing its poor mortgage market acquisition strategy though the purchase of Challengers broker channel, with ANZ more focused on Asian than local growth.

Crossley added, “Regional banks have significant challengers in competing on either brand or price and are therefore providing no barrier to the ‘big two’ banks continued mortgage market share gain.”

Prior to the takeover approval of St George and Bankwest, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac had a combined market share of 33.1%. The group reports that concentration in the residential mortgage market by the big four has accelerated since the mergers were approved by the ACCC last year.

“Australian consumers nonetheless now face a period of significantly less choice in arranging their home loans,” added Crossley.