ANZ customers lose out in post office banking fallout
There’s drama Down Under as ANZ customers have lost access to banking services at their local post offices after the bank fell out with Australia Post on its Bank@Post service.
There’s no official word on the bank’s website yet, but according to ABC this follows on from last year when Australia Post introduced a flat fee of AU$22 million ($15.8 million) and revised transaction charges for all major banks to access the service.
Three of the four major banks – Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac – signed on to the new agreement, but ANZ has not.
On Australia Post’s website it says it “approached all major banks to pay the same Community Representation Fee and a variable transaction charge to continue to offer Bank@Post services after flagging we could no longer continue to provide this essential service at a loss”.
It says the fee is “critical for investment in local Post Offices providing the service”.
Australia Post says it lost AU$48 million ($34.5 million) on that Bank@Post service last year and it is in “critical need of improved investment in technology and security”.
ANZ says it has about 900 small business customers nationally who use the Bank@Post service on a regular basis and do not have a branch within 20 kilometres of their local post office.
As you can imagine, out in the rural areas people tend to use cash more. They haven’t gone for digital banking yet.
ANZ’s general manager of retail distribution, Paul Presland, says regional customers were dramatically changing their banking behaviour and were not relying on the Bank@Post service.
“Many of our customers aren’t happy with the decision that we have made,” he explains.
“But they’re open-minded and they’re open to listening and talking to what we can to do for them.”
ABC says the bank’s failure to reach agreement with Australia Post follows its decision last year to close 63 branches across the country, 40 in regional Australia.
For small businesses and customers who do not live close to an ANZ bank branch, this is a nightmare.
There is no space to quote all the disgruntled users ABC spoke to, but a shop owner in Tasmania (island state off Australia’s south coast) says the nearest ANZ branch is 1.5 hours away.
She comments: “It will be a three-hour round trip for us to do any banking at Scottsdale [a town in the north-east of Tasmania], which isn’t good enough, because we’ve got cash and cheques that have to be banked and also we need a large amount of change.”
Both the ANZ and Australia Post have set-up a hotline for customers adjusting to the change.
This financial year ANZ customers processed almost one million banking transactions through their local post office.
Presland adds that ANZ did expect to lose customers as a result of its withdrawal from Australia Post’s banking services.
“If we’re unable to help them, we will help them with what the alternatives can be.”