Australian bank branches are closing at an alarming pace

Branches vanishing across the country.

 

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Approximately 1,300 bank branches have closed on a national level from 2017-2021, including a 23 per cent decline in regional areas.

BANK CLOSURES

Australia’s bank branches are closing all across Australia, from major cities to small regional towns.

We have recently seen the closure of 129 regional branches over the last 18 months alone, with a large portion those being issued with closure notices by the government to do so.

The latest story was a few weeks ago, with ANZ Bank announcing they will close their only branch in the remote north-west Victorian town of Robinvale — despite the hassle it will create for the non-tech savvy.

So, just how bad are things looking?

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones released the final report of the Regional Banking Taskforce in September, in very sneaky circumstances at 5.52 pm on a Friday evening before a long weekend.

It goes on to detail a 23 per cent decline in both regional and national branches in the four-year period leading to June 2021. Nationally, that is an ‘official’ decrease of 1,300 branches since 2017.

Since then, the trend is tipped to have increased even further over the 2022 year period (‘funnily’ not highlighted in this report that was released after June 2022).

South Australian Opposition Leader David Speirs recently told a Shadow Cabinet meeting in Naracoorte just before Christmas that “not only will country banks continue to close, but we should expect closures across cities and suburbs as well“.

There will be no banks in 10 years’ time,” he told businessman Robert Bull who questioned the leader at the forum about the lack of bank services in Naracoorte and the wider region.

 

A (now closed) petition containing 5,000 signatures has asked for an immediate moratorium on regional bank closures. It also calls for a new banking inquiry, criticising the bank-stacked Regional Banking Taskforce report for underestimating the true impact.

Private research shows regional Australia has lost 62 per cent of its banks since 1975, leaving just 1062 located mainly in clusters in larger centres. The number of towns and cities with a bank has shrunk from 1226 to 386: 575 towns that once had one or more major banks now have no form of bank at all. Another 146 towns are on the brink of complete loss of banking services, with just one major bank open.

These moves follow the mass removal of ATMs as well. At least 2,150 terminals were removed in the recent June 2020 quarter, according to the Australian Payments Network.

The Regional Banking Taskforce report also highlights ATMs, although doesn’t give exact numbers. They do, however, highlight that it has been a 20 per cent loss since 2016.

Branch closures are not unique to Australia. In New Zealand, just under a quarter of the branches that
were operating in September 2019 were closed by March 2021, and in the UK, the number
of bank branches has roughly halved from 1986 to 2014.

It’s all part of the agenda to make everything digital, so it can be completely controlled.

CASHLESS SOCIETY

We raised the alarm on Australia’s transition to a cashless society first in 2018.

Since then, things have only continued to accelerate.

Research conducted by MyState Bank found that since the ‘pandemic outbreak’, more than two-thirds (or 68%) of Australians are using less cash in favour of contactless technology.

Australian Retailers Association Chief Executive, Paul Zahra, said COVID-19 will forever change the way Australians buy and sell goods when speaking to the media.

“We know that nearly half of Australians have decreased their use of cash when making purchases in person because of coronavirus fears around cash handling,” he said.

“We expect new habits in the way we pay will become permanent for many Australians.”

To this end, Australia is predicted to be 98 per cent cashless by 2024.

According to the 2021 annual Global Payments Report by fintech company FIS, Australia will be mostly cashless within a few years, with the research projecting only around 2 per cent of transactions in Australia will be cash by 2024, a large drop from 8.3 per cent in 2020.

With more cashless systems, comes more control:

Financial journalist Brett Scott calls this a prison of watchable payments.

Although, there is still time to turn things around:

Much like most things we see, ‘data’ is not a real-world model.

‘The map is not the territory’.

There are still many real-world problems and case studies that might show this is an ill-fated prediction — especially if more people begin to wake up and start using cash again.

Cash will always be king.

Let’s all ensure it stays that way, despite the gloomy outlook.

Source:https://tottnews.com/2023/01/12/australian-banks-closing/

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