Among Australia’s ‘big four’ banks, ANZ was the only company that did not contribute $22 million to fund the [email protected] service. (ABC News: Laura Bevis)
ANZ customers have lost access to banking services at their local post offices after the bank failed to reach an agreement with Australia Post on their [email protected] service.
The change, which came into effect last night, will have the most impact on small businesses and customers in regional Australia who do not live close to an ANZ bank branch.
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.
Chris Dancer owns a confectionary and gift shop in St Helens on Tasmania’s east coast and used the [email protected] service.
She said the nearest ANZ branch is 1.5 hours away.
“It will be a three hour round trip for us to do any banking at Scottsdale, 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,” she said.
Ms Dancer said ANZ did not notify her about the changes.
“It’s absolutely appalling that ANZ have chosen to go this way … in fact it’s quite disgusting.”
Shop keeper Chris Dancer faces a three-hour round trip to deposit her days’ takings at the nearest ANZ branch after it stopped offering banking services through Australia Post outlets. (ABC News: Laura Bevis)
ANZ: Customers are ‘open-minded’
Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate said the majority of people using the service were living in regional areas.
However, last year Australia Post introduced a flat fee of $22 million and revised transaction charges for all major banks to access the service.
Three of the four major banks signed on to the new agreement, but the ANZ has not.
ANZ said it has about 900 small business customers nationally who use the [email protected] service on a regular basis and do not have a branch within 20 kilometres of their local post office.
ANZ’s general manager of retail distribution, Paul Presland, said regional customers were dramatically changing their banking behaviour and were not relying on the [email protected] service.
“Many of our customers aren’t happy with the decision that we have made,” he said.
“But they’re open-minded and they’re open to listening and talking to what we can to do for them.”
Regional customers ‘furious’
On Tasmania’s east coast, Glamorgan Spring Bay councillor Michael Symons said many people had approached him to complain about the change.
“They’re actually quite furious that ANZ’s decided to just close the local offices and inconvenience them to a point,” he said.
Mr Symons previously operated an ANZ Local Link in the Bicheno news agency but the service ended in 2016.
“I imagine that rural and regional Australia has been quite lucrative for ANZ over the years, and people feel hard done by that they’re ditching them because it doesn’t suit.”
Both the ANZ and Australia Post have set-up a hotline for customers adjusting to the change.
Australia Post said as the cut-off date approached they were receiving increasing numbers of complaints and queries from concerned customers, particularly in regional areas.
Regions slow to embrace EFTPOS, online banking
This financial year ANZ customers processed almost one million banking transactions through their local post office.
Ms Holgate said the banking service is expensive to run.
“We lost $48 million on that [email protected] service last year and it is in critical need of improved investment in technology and security,” she said.
“And there is some simple services in the bush that they really need … there are 1,550 communities with no bank whatsoever.
“They actually need to get access to coinage, they need to deposit things.
“In rural and regional Australia we are still very much a cash society, we are not yet swiping our way to trade.”
Another ANZ account holder who lives on Tasmania’s east coast, Angela Matthews, agreed that many regional residents have yet to embrace online banking.
She and her husband operate a small commercial fishing business in St Helens, and while they do most of their banking online, most of their customers prefer to pay by cheque.
“A lot of them are the older generation that don’t trust internet banking and things like that,” she said.
Ms Matthews used the [email protected] service to deposit cheques from her customers as the ANZ ATM in St Helens does not accept deposits.
“I’m annoyed that they’re taking everything away,” Ms Matthews said.
“It’s one thing to close a branch, it’s another thing to remove a teller machine, but then to not even have access through Australia Post is really frustrating.”
Small business owner and ANZ account holder Angela Matthews needs to deposit cheques from her clients but can no longer do so at Australia Post outlets. (ABC News: Laura Bevis)
ANZ disappointed with situation
Mr Presland said the ANZ did expect to lose customers as a result of its withdrawal from Australia Post’s banking services.
“There will be some customers that we won’t be able to help,” he said.
“If we’re unable to help them, we will help them with what the alternatives can be.”
ANZ could not provide details to the ABC about its plans for alternative arrangements for commercial customers.
Mr Presland said the bank was disappointed it could not reach an agreement with Australia Post.
“Unfortunately, Australia Post propose charging a flat $22-million fee in addition to transaction fees, which was reflecting upon the costs our larger competitor was having.
“It would have been three or four times per transaction for the cost.”