The Bank of New Zealand has announced its Dargaville branch opening hours will be reduced by half in the face of online and digital banking competition.
BNZ retail regional manager, Tracey Mold said: “We are constantly reviewing the locations of our store network to make sure we are focussing investment in the areas we can best serve the changing needs of our customers. “Our customers are increasingly choosing BNZ’s digital banking channels to fulfil their everyday banking needs and the decline in demand for in-store banking services at the BNZ Dargaville store reflects this fact,” she said.
“Digital accounts for 9 out of every 10 bank transactions.”
The bank needed a presence but it could not sustain the same branches it had five years ago, and the Dargaville branch will open from 9am to 12.30pm from April 3 onwards.
Similar changes have been announced for the Kaikohe branch while Paihia BNZ is set to close its doors for the final time. BNZ’s moves follows that of other banks. Last year Westpac closed 19 branches in mainly rural areas and the ANZ also planned to cut six branches.
Northland MP Winston Peters has slammed the bank’s decision saying the move was about boosting profits and was bad news for older Kiwis who “prefer face-to-face banking.
“It is another example of a foreign corporate’s indifference to small-town New Zealand. It’s not as though they are running short of money. Last year BNZ overall recorded a profit of $913 million.
“But like other Australian-owned banks in New Zealand such as Westpac, they are interested only in making as big a profit as they can,” he said.
“They don’t care about providing a service, especially to older Kiwis who prefer face-to-face banking rather than online banking. It’s obvious that by cutting the hours at Dargaville and Kaikohe, BNZ is moving towards full closure at these branches.”
Dargaville Business Forum chairman Peter Boyd said the reduction in hours wasn’t a reflection of local retail. “It’s a reflection of the technology, nearly everything banking-wise can be done online or over the phone. However there will always be a demand for the elderly customers who may need face-to-face service and who can’t navigate online services.”
Secretary of Kaipara Greypower June Klenner said 85–90-year-olds generally prefer to talk to someone over the counter while banking.
“I can’t do online banking myself and get confused, so unless you’re computer savvy and know what you’re doing, then it will have an effect,” she said.
Representatives from both Westpac and ANZ told the Lifestyler they had no current plans or intention to change the opening hours of their Dargaville bank branches.
BNZ will be notifying their customers by email and post of the upcoming changes.