A second major bank is considering branch closures in rural New Zealand.

First Union, whose members include bank staff, say ANZ bank - the country's largest bank - is consulting on the closure of five branches.

The union says those branches are in Palmerston North at Massey University, Milton, Ngaruawahia, Otorohanga and Te Aroha.

A spokesman for the ANZ said after careful consideration it was proposing to close some low-volume branches and is consulting with staff on the future of their roles and their potential options should the branch close.

"We have worked hard to maintain our 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."

The bank said it in most locations it would leave a Smart ATM so customers could have access to cash and make deposits.

"For other transactions, customers can use internet banking, mobile banking or call our New Zealand-based Contact Centre."


The spokesman said around 19 positions were affected but staff would be offered the chance to relocate or take serverance pay.

The bank said preferences of its customers were changing rapidly.

"The average ANZ customer uses mobile banking one to two times a day, and visits a branch only two times a year."

ANZ's move comes just weeks after Westpac began consultation on closing 19 of its branches most of which are in rural towns.

Westpac is expected to tell staff and customers its final decision next week on which branches could get the chop.

The bank has 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.

But its move has angered residents especially in the South Island towns of Ranfurly and Fairlie where Westpac is the only bank branch in town.

Protests have been held by people up and down the country upset about losing access to local in branch banking services, having to drive further and the lack of community consultation by the bank.

ANZ's review of the Otorohanga and Te Aroha branches could result in a double blow for residents of those towns as they are also on the list for Westpac.

Tali Williams, First Union national organiser, said banking was an essential service and should be made available to towns who want it.

"Does ANZ expect farmers in Te Aroha to make major financial decisions with a call centre?

"Does ANZ expect elderly residents in Ngaruawahia to buy the new iPhone 7 and install the bank's app instead of making their transactions at the branch?" she questioned.

But economist Shamubeel Eaqub has said branch closures are a commercial reality for small shrinking towns if they do not have enough business to keep banks interested.

"We have moved much more to large scale banks and they are very commercially driven."