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Bankwest’s novel idea to simplify fine print

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Bankwest will introduce a comic-style version of its terms and conditions in a bid to make convoluted legal clauses simpler and more engaging for customers.

The West Australian subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank has rolled out visual terms and conditions for its everyday transaction account.

The graphics are part of an effort to simplify and cut down the amount of text a person needs to digest to sign up to the banking product.

The new visual contract has been implemented following research conducted by the University of Western Australia which found 69 per cent of participants preferred graphics over text-heavy legal documents.

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Bankwest chief customer officer Paul Vivian said a vast number of customers do not engage with the legal contracts when starting up a new banking product.

“The visual T&Cs project has allowed us to reimagine how we present critical information to customers in a far more simple, friendly and engaging way to support them in improving their financial wellbeing,” Mr Vivian said.

Camera IconBankwest has reinvented terms and conditions in an Australia-first innovation. Credit: Supplied

UWA law professor Camilla Andersen said the main purpose of the visual contract was to be a document people actually read, which would assist in driving down the risk of potential conflicts and disputes between a customer and the bank.

“Our research has shown that people are far more likely to engage with the comic contracts than the text-based terms, and research in psychology shows that images help people to associate and remember things better,” Dr Andersen said.

“Through a tool like comic imagery, we can make contracts what they were meant to be: accessible and clear frameworks for contractual collaboration – working together, with shared understanding, and no hidden fine print.”

Bankwest will still offer traditional terms and conditions contracts to customers signing up to its everyday transaction account.

Dr Andersen said contract agreements for products and services can often lack clarity which can lead to further problems between the company and the customer.

“Most users of iTunes, for example, don’t even realise that they don’t own the music they buy, and we all just click ‘I agree’, which can lead to nasty surprises,” she said.

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