Waimate included in expanded regional banking hub trial

Waimate, from the White Horse lookout. ODT file photo.
Waimate, from the White Horse lookout. ODT file photo.
A regional banking hub trial involving six major banks is to extend until the end of next year and add another four hubs.

The trial was launched in November 2020 after an outcry from small towns who had been left with no banking services following a raft of branch closures.

The initial hubs opened in Martinborough, Ōpunake, Stoke and Twizel - towns with populations of fewer than 2000 people.

Four new hubs are to be opened by mid way through next year in Whangamatā, Ōpōtiki, Tūrangi and Waimate. The towns have more than 3000 people and are at least a half an hour's drive away from an existing bank branch.

The new hubs will have a Smart ATM and full cash change services, a full-time dedicated concierge, an employee from each bank available on site for a few hours on separate weekdays, a private meeting room, and private areas for phone and internet banking.

Roger Beaumont, chief executive of the New Zealand Bankers' Association, said the trial and associated research had provided extremely useful insights into regional banking, despite significant changes in customer banking behaviour and Covid-19 alert level interruptions.

"The past 12 months have been a difficult time to run a trial, with major changes in customer behaviour accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and regular changes in alert levels. We intend to run the next phase until the end of 2023, to give these dynamic changes time to pan out."

Participating banks are ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Kiwibank, TSB and Westpac.

The banks have also renewed a promise not to close any more regional branches until the end of 2023.

This excludes branches in the main centres of Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. It also does not cover TSB's network in Taranaki.

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