Westpac branch closures a sign of the times as banks increasingly go cashless?

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Article by Tom Watson

It’s no secret that Australians love their cashless payment options, and it seems the big banks are following the trend with the announcement that Westpac is closing a number of traditional branches at the same time as ANZ opens its first cashless branch in Brisbane.

Westpac branch closures a sign of the times as banks increasingly go cashless?

Data released by the RBA in March revealed that more than 75% of face-to-face purchases over $10 are now made using ‘tap and go’, with most Aussies only using physical cash for smaller transactions.

This trend toward cashlessness may be having an impact on traditional bank branches, with Banking Day reporting today that, in addition to over 60 branches its closed since 2015, Westpac is set to shut two more outlets - one in Inglewood (Western Australia) and another in Kingston (Victoria).

Westpac has already closed over 60 branches since mid-2015 (the majority in New South Wales), with ten of those shutting down in 2017 alone.

Despite a reduction in the number of traditional outlets, ‘cashless’ bank branches have been popping up across the country - ANZ announcing the opening of its first cashless branch in Brisbane just last week.

ANZ’s Brisbane outlet is the seventh cashless branch it’s opened in Australia since March 2016 without traditional tellers or over-the-counter cash withdrawals - instead staff at the branch offer customers assistance using ATMs and advice on financial products.

“Our customers are embracing the digital changes we’re rolling out across our network as they continue to use cashless for everyday purchases,” said Catriona Noble, ANZ’s Australian Managing Director of Retail Distribution. 

“The simplicity of internet banking and digital apps means many customers often don’t need cash, and in some cases don’t need a physical wallet at all with the availability of mobile payments where they can pay with their smartphone.”

In November last year Citi became the first bank in Australia to go completely cashless after it stopped dealing in over-the-counter coins and notes - the bank citing the fact that less than 4% of its customers had taken out cash from tellers in the previous year as part of the reason for the shift.

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