Westpac is celebrating its 200th birthday by depositing A$200 into new accounts for babies born in 2017 - but only in Australia.

The bank launched its "Bump" initiative today, offering a headstart for newborns with parents able to make extra donations.

The account could then be accessed at age 16. Westpac Australia said the scheme was aimed at helping parents and grandparents provide positive financial habits for children from birth, but a spokesman for the bank in New Zealand said the scheme was restricted to Australia.

"We're not doing that scheme in New Zealand," he said. "This year marks the 200th year that Westpac started in Australia so the initiative is restricted to Australia, Westpac's only been in New Zealand about 154 years."


According to News.com in Australia, banking experts were predicting a quarter of parents with newborns would take up the offer which was open to all Australian babies born in 2017, regardless of whether their parents were Westpac customers.

Around 300,000 Australian babies are currently born each year, meaning the bank could give up to A$60 million ($62.6 million).

Westpac Group's consumer banking chief executive George Frazis said helping children to start saving early could pay off in later years, setting them up with good financial habits.

"By building on an initial $200 deposit at birth with a $20 contribution every week, for example, will potentially amass approximately $19,000 in savings (based on a 1.5 per cent interest rate) by the time the child turns 16," Frazis said.

"That's a significant financial head start for any child and can be put towards future education, life experiences such as a gap year or a deposit on a first home," he said.

"We've listened to parents and grandparents and believe the Bump Savings account will demonstrate the benefits of long term savings to young people, so by the time they turn 16, they might consider continuing to save their money."