Grey Power has called on the Government to direct Kiwi Bank and post bank to fill the gap left by commercial banks abandoning many small communities
National president Mac Welch said while Government cannot require private enterprise banks to maintain unprofitable branches in remote communities, Kiwi Bank and Post Shops are Government entities and Grey Power believed they have at least a moral duty of service to the people who own them.
The Kiwi Bank website has a banner which says, “Our name says it all. We’re a bank made for New Zealanders, by New Zealanders. Helping Kiwis achieve financial independence is what we do.”
Mr Welch said there is also the commercial possibility that, as other banks leave town, Kiwi Bank could pick up the customers they abandon.
Last week Westpac announced the closure of 19 branches across NZ and both ANZ and ASB are pulling out of some centres. Banks have said that closing the branches is a response to more people relying on their phone or computer to do banking and hinted that the end of bank branches was a possibility in the near future.
Welch said the more likely reason for the closures was that it was cheaper for banks to close remote branches and some banks wanted as many customers as possible to use on-line banking, so they could reduce staff and operational costs.
Westpac branches due for closure by November 1 are: Kamo, Raglan, Otorohanga, Putaruru, Te Aroha, Cherrywood, Whangamata, Broadway Ave, Wainuiomata, Waikanae, Carterton, Takaka, Stoke, Fendalton Mall, Bishopdale Gardens, Fairlie, Ranfurly and Te Anau.
The closure of post shops and banking facilities in small communities is also one of many indications that cost cutting and the march of modern technology is leaving many elderly people without essential services, Welch said.
“Many senior people don’t use internet banking or emails for communication and many don’t even have computers. The bank and the local post office, or post shop, are the centre of many small communities. It is where people conduct most of their official business and local bankers and postmasters know what service means,” he said.
“The combined impact of these losses could be the death knell of many little communities dotted around the country with a subsequent ripple effect with the loss of other essential facilities to farming communities. These could include school closures and the loss of service stations and engineering workshops as more people are forced to sell up and move to larger centres.”