The mayors of two towns facing the prospect of two major banks closing up shop within weeks of each other say people are shocked at the double blow.

Te Aroha and Otorohanga were two of five towns where ANZ bank yesterday confirmed it is considering branch closures.

They are also on the list of 19 mainly rural branches which Westpac is looking to shut down.

Westpac is due to make a decision on its branch closures next week after undertaking consultation with staff.


Both banks have put the proposed branch closures down to the falling number of customers using branches and the increase in people doing their banking online.

Max Baxter, mayor of Otorohanga District Council, said there was a huge element of shock when Westpac announced their proposal and the ANZ news had turned that to outrage.

"It's a real shock for people."

"I can understand it to a point when you look at the foot traffic and declining numbers."

But he said a lot of the vibrancy of a town was based on perception and losing two bank branches would impact that.

The town would still have Rabobank, BNZ and Kiwibank if the other two banks shut up shop.

"It's not going to be the ruin of the town at all."

But he hit back at the banks for leaving small communities behind.


"With all those profits - sometimes they have got to think about the communities that have got them to where they are as well.

"It is easy for corporates to make a decision out of nice shiny offices in Auckland."

Jan Barnes, mayor of the Matamata Piako District Council which includes Te Aroha, said people had been left reeling by the news.

It is very concerning for my little community.

Barnes said if both banks went ahead with the closures Te Aroha people would still have a BNZ and a Kiwibank service inside its Four Square but she hoped to persuade ANZ and Westpac to stay.

"I have been talking to both of the area managers. But they have employment issues to work through first."

Barnes said the town had a lot of older people which would find the closures difficult.

"We want to support people making sure they can access their accounts online. But human beings don't like change."

Yesterday an ANZ spokesman said the preferences of its customers were changing rapidly.

"The vast majority of customers choose to do their day to day banking any time of day from anywhere via internet banking or our ANZ goMoney smartphone app with fewer and fewer using branches."

He said the average ANZ customer uses mobile banking one to two times a day, and visits a branch only two times a year.

"The number of customers using internet banking has increased 147 per cent between 2013 and 2016 while the number using ANZ goMoney has increased 427 per cent."

The ANZ spokesman said the bank had worked hard to maintain its branch presence.

"But we consider these branches are no longer viable, a situation that is unlikely to improve as the number of customers using branches continues to drop steadily."

Westpac has also blamed the rise in online transactions on its decision to review its branches.

"Currently more than 85 per cent of service transactions with us take place outside of a branch," it has said in a statement.