Kamo residents resigned to loss of ASB and Westpac banks

By Lindy Laird

2 comments
Suzie Bliss, who lives at nearby Radius Rimu Rest Home, does not do online banking and is worried about Kamo being left without banks. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Suzie Bliss, who lives at nearby Radius Rimu Rest Home, does not do online banking and is worried about Kamo being left without banks. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Kamo residents and businesses are reeling at the sudden news the township's ASB bank branch will close in little over a month.

The move will potentially leave Kamo with no banks - other than a Kiwibank desk in the PostShop - after Westpac announced it was possibly going to close its branch in Kamo.

ASB customers were notified late last week the bank will close the branch on October 7.

The letter advised them to do more banking online or to use a central Whangarei facility.

An ASB spokesman said the bank is considering installing a Smart ATM at Kamo, allowing customers to make deposits and withdrawals. There would be minimal staffing impacts as a result of the branch closure, with Kamo staff being offered work at Whangarei CBD branches, he said.

The closure has not gone down well with people who can not do online banking or have limited transport options, mainly older citizens.

It is the second - but so far the only definite - news regarding Kamo banks this month.

Westpac has named the Kamo branch as one of 19 facing closure nationwide, the decision to be made in October.

Lindsay Caley, chairwoman of the Kamo Business Association, said the group was "absolutely gutted" at the news.

A recent survey showed Kamo had the highest population of older citizens in Whangarei and 50 per cent of them lived within walking distance of the shopping centre.

"It's critical that we provide local services," Mr Caley said.

A lot of local businesses also used the ASB and Westpac branches, he said.

A letter to Kamo customers from Grant Gilbert, ASB branch banking general manager, said the closure was because of a decline in staff-assisted transactions.

"This is partly due to more readily available self-service technology and increased use of digital banking solutions, like our internet banking service," Mr Gilbert said.

A new ASB Whangarei Regional Centre with expanded facilities will open in Rathbone St next year.

However, the idea of having to drive, bus or cadge a lift from Kamo and beyond to the city centre does not appeal to people used to popping into a local branch.

The Advocate has fielded calls from unhappy customers and a street poll in the suburb yesterday revealed widespread concern.

ASB customer Mac Moore was resigned to the fact he would have to travel into central Whangarei to do his banking.

Mac Moore says he is not computer savvy and will have to drive into central Whangarei to do his ASB banking. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Mac Moore says he is not computer savvy and will have to drive into central Whangarei to do his ASB banking. Photo / Michael Cunningham

"They're encouraging everyone to do internet banking. It's a trend, but I'm not computer savvy," Mr Moore said.

Retailer Jennifer Beachen said people should bail from the Australian-owned banks and move to a New Zealand bank in protest. As well as sending a strong message, the effect would be good for this country's economy, she said.

ASB, owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, made $913 million in the past financial year and Westpac turned a $920 million profit.

Beryl Wilkinson, of Age Concern Whangarei, said services for senior citizens were being increasingly "whittled down - possibly five years before that age group is very comfortable with the digital world".

If Westpac also decides to close its Kamo branch, the Kiwibank desk in the PostShop will be the only local banking service other than ATMs.

- Northern Advocate

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 21 Feb 2017 01:14:26 Processing Time: 535ms