Bank branches removed as customers move online, APRA data

The latest data released by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) revealed that the number of banking services available across the country was down in the financial year ending June 2022.

The data revealed that 309 bank branches were closed nationwide in the last fiscal year alone, with 96 branches closed in New South Wales, 57 closed in Queensland and 88 closed in Victoria.

Around 95 have been closed in regional Australia.

Over the past five years, the number of available banks has increased from 5,694 in June 2017 to 4,014 in June 2022, marking 1,680 closures.

Annual statistics from APRA’s Point of Presence Data on Authorized Deposits (ADI) come after the federal government released its latest task force on regional banks report (September 30), set up by the previous government to measure the impact of bank closures on regional cities.

After receiving more than 400 submissions from the public on the subject, the task force found that banks could “do more” to communicate with individual communities when closing a branch and recommended services through Australia Post must be maintained in the future.

The drop in branch closures marked a 7% drop in fiscal year 2022, which was slightly lower than the 9% decline seen the previous year.

As more people turn to digital banking, the data also revealed that more than 1,300 ATMs have been taken down across the country, reflecting 402 closures in New South Wales, 362 to Victoria and 259 in Queensland.

Western Australia also saw a high number of ATM closures of 168, while numbers were slightly lower in other states.

The APRA data followed calls from the community and federal and state governments for “better information” on access to banking services, with the first release of annual point of presence statistics in June 2001 .

Changing customer preferences

More recently, Bankwest announced the closure of 14 East Coast branches following growing customer preference for digital banking and brokerage services.

“Clients increasingly expect us to be simpler and easier to use through their brokers and our digital and contact center channels, so it’s critical that we meet those expectations,” Jason said. Chan, Executive Managing Director of Bankwest.

“We are exploring how we continue to strike the right balance between supporting customers who want to use branches while providing the digital services customers expect from us.

As the shutdowns open doors for regional brokers to fill the void and provide credit advice to customers, the Financial Sector Union (FSU) said it was leaving communities decimated.

The FSU comments followed news that Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) had the union of 23 branch closures across Australia.

FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano said Westpac had announced the closure of 95 branches in the past four months, leaving staff at each remaining branch fearful that their bank could be the next to close.

“This is the most appalling decimation of a branch network by a bank that is now on the verge of abandoning its social contract with the community,” Ms Angrisano said.

“The Bank of Melbourne, Bank SA and St George brands are badly affected and could well disappear if the current pace of closures continues.

“This latest round of closures is why we need the federal government to open an investigation into bank branch closures, especially in regional areas, where they are having a devastating impact on retail customers and businesses. “

[Related: Banks told to do more amid regional closures]

Comments are closed.