Elderly still want hard cash

Four months on from the closure of Kurow's only bank, some elderly residents are still making weekly 120km round-trips to the nearest bank in Oamaru, because they are struggling to use eftpos cards rather than cash.

The National Bank closed its Kurow branch in July, and although many of the town's businesses have accepted its loss, despite increased costs, Grey Power North Otago treasurer Thea McTeigue said many elderly residents were still struggling to come to terms with life without the bank.

Ms McTeigue said many senior members of the community had always used cash, but for those people with failing eyesight, electronic card transactions were not easy to conduct.

The town's two ATMs also charged a $2 fee for cash withdrawals, she said.

"The bank is sorely missed.

"It's a real nuisance for some people. They have either got to go through to Oamaru or make alternative arrangements."

Kurow Museum and Information Centre co-ordinator Carron Cossens said most residents now used electronic transactions more frequently, in order to avoid the 120km round trip to Oamaru, but she knew several older people in the community who were having trouble adjusting and had found it hard to learn how to use eftpos cards.

"I am aware of at least three elderly members of the community who have had to acquire eftpos cards for the first time, and I know that has been a steep learning curve for them."

The Bledisloe St branch closed on July 13 after an engineering survey of all National and ANZ banks found the 1871 building did not meet earthquake safety standards.

andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz