Will country towns keep their bank branches?

IN THE digital age of banking one wonders if small Australian towns will retain their bank branches over the coming decade?

Perhaps the future of a bank's footprint soon may just be automatic teller machines.

That's the issue being pondered in the New South Wales Mid North Coast town of Macksville after news this week the Commonwealth Bank is set to close its doors.

CBA customers have been informed the branch will be shut from Friday, November 25.

For many concerned customers, the closure will mean they will either have to use online banking, switch financial institutions or if they chose to stay loyal to CBA do their banking in either the Nambucca Heads or Kempsey CBA branches, or via Australia Post.

"I've received numerous representations from residents, business owners and the local Chamber of Commerce who are outraged by this move," Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said.

"Macksville is the centre of business activity for many surrounding townships; it's also a progressive centre with a growing industrial area, new Catholic school and an aging population.

"I don't think it's a logical decision for the Commonwealth to pull out of Macksville at a time when the area has a bright future and one that requires institutions such as the Commonwealth Bank present to support the local economy."

The Federal member has urged the bank to reverse its decision to shut the branch.

A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson issued a statement stating that the bank regularly reviews its branch footprint and following a recent review the decision had been made to close the town's bank branch.

In responding to the public concerns, CBA released information to suggest a decline in customer transactions through the branch.

"In making this decision, we have considered a range of factors to ensure it is in line with a balance of community expectations, customer preferences and business priorities,” a CBA spokesperson said.

"Over time we have seen fewer and fewer transactions in branch as customers embrace alternative banking channels such as online and mobile.

"Our team in Macksville is committed to ensuring the transition is as smooth as possible for customers.

"We will work with customers to demonstrate alternative ways to bank, including services available online, through mobile and via phone in addition to services offered by the Macksville Australia Post Office.

"The Macksville Australia Post outlet located at 2 Cooper Street will be available for customers to complete personal and business banking transactions such as withdrawals, deposits and bill payments during normal business hours. This includes passbook accounts.

"In addition, customers can access accounts 24 hours a day through NetBank, the CommBank app or phone on 13 22 21. Further, we are working to retain ATM presence in Macksville.

"We continue to provide a comprehensive range of banking services at Nambucca Heads and Kempsey. In addition, we are providing support for customers wanting to transact through other channels including digital and self-service options."

Locals say it is unclear to the public whether staff working at the branch will be reassigned or made redundant.

What's equally hard for locals to stomach is that they'll lose their bank just months after the Commonwealth Bank of Australia announced a statutory net profit after tax for the year ended June 30 of 9,227 million - a 2% increase on the year prior.

Currently, Macksville has an NAB bank branch in River St and of course the town is home to a bcu credit union branch, as the birthplace of the Bananacoast Community Credit Union in the early 1970s.

Topics:  cba commonwealth bank kempsey luke hartsuyker macksville nambucca heads

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