‘Devastating’ decision by Australia’s big four banks impacts 300 suburbs
ATM's and bank branches across Australia are continuing to close at a rapid rate
Switch by customers to digital banking sees 'Big Four' banks switch their focus
ANZ head of distribution Kath Bray said changes were a clear sign of the times
PUBLISHED: 00:54, 1 March 2022
As Australian banks continue to focus on digital transactions for customers, ATMs and bank branches are disappearing across the country, according to new data.
At the same time, the big four banks — CBA, Westpac, ANZ and NAB — permanently closed the doors of 459 of their branches
The analysis revealed the big four banks — CBA, Westpac, ANZ and NAB closed the doors to 460 bank branches and approximately 3800 previously active ATMs have been removed.
The shutdowns left nearly 300 NSW suburbs without a branch to visit and 216 suburbs have been left with no way to procure cash after the closure of ATMs in the area.
It is a similar story in Victoria, where 120 branches have permanently closed their doors to customers.
'Closures have a devastating impact on local communities,' Finance Sector Union national secretary Julia Angrisano said. Jobs are lost, business is impacted, and another local service disappears.'
As Australian banks continue to go digital, ATM's are becoming rapidly redundant, according to new data (pictured, customers using a cash machine in Sydney). In NSW alone, NSW now has 140 less in-store banks compared to a few years ago, and almost 300 suburbs across the state don't have a singular ATM to withdraw cash
The closures are particularly bad news for regional and rural areas, and older citizens, according to Ms Angrisano.
“There needs to be a better assessment of community needs before a branch is closed …,” she added.
“If banks are now essential services then perhaps we should look at how they can be regulated like other essential services.”
Another key factor for the branch closures and reduced ATM's is the fact that banks are bringing in a small fortune from daily digital transactions.
As Australia accelerates towards a cashless society, fees from either the customer or vender for online banking have become common place.
In a modern-day digital world, an estimated 80 per cent of Aussies prefer to bank online. But the remaining 20 per cent, namely the disabled or those who are not digital savvy, have been left stranded.
Tellingly, CBA now has 875 bank branches nationwide - compared to 1134 in February 2020. Their number of ATMs has reduced to just over 2000 - in 2019 there were 4118 ATM's in circulation.
Last year, ANZ head of distribution Kath Bray said bank branch closures were a sign of the times, with digital transactions now the primary focus for many.