New Zealand banks collectively cut 44 branches from their networks last year with all the major banks making cut-backs.

Figures from KPMG's FIPS Banking report show the total number of bank branches in New Zealand fell from 1024 to 980 between 2017 and 2018.

ANZ - the country's largest bank by assets - made the biggest cut-backs reducing its branch numbers by 12 to 179 while Kiwibank, which has the largest branch network, reduced its number by nine to 244.

Westpac reduced its number by eight, BNZ seven and ASB two branches.


An ANZ spokeswoman said the number of customers visiting ANZ branches had been declining and this followed a global trend.

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

But Jessica Wilson, head of research at Consumer New Zealand, said 44 branches over 12 months was a reasonable number - around three to four per month.

Wilson said the impact on consumers would depend on the locations of the closures with smaller centres feeling it tougher.

"We get complaints really when in happens more in the small centres. People have to travel further to bank a cheque or talk about their mortgage. It does add to the cost for the consumer."

Wilson said its surveys showed more than 80 per cent believed it was important to have access to a bank branch.

"Reducing branch numbers obviously reduces the costs for banks but we have not seen cost savings passed on to the customer."

Wilson said some banks still charged $3 to $5 to access phone banking and banks needed to look at what fees they were charging to provide alternative access.


ATM numbers also fell by 22 across the banks to 2513 but some banks cut back while others increased the number of ATMs they own.

Westpac cut its ATMs back the most reducing the number by 73 to 538 while ANZ cut its by 64 to 591.

A Westpac spokesman said its ATM numbers had decreased last year.

"Prior to this, our network was amongst the largest operated by a New Zealand bank when measured against customer market share."

A year ago the industry decided to remove the $1 charge for using other bank ATMs opening up the network for all consumers to use without having to pay a fee.

The Westpac spokesman said following the change its customers could now access 2400 ATMs around the country – four times as many as before – without incurring a fee.

"We also continue to introduce more "Smart ATMs", which can take customer deposits and be used for bill payments."

The ANZ spokeswoman said its move away from ATMs and branches was due to changing customer preferences.

"As a result of the increase in non-cash payments, such as EFTPOS, contactless and online banking payments, ANZ ATM transactions have declined 21 per cent over the last six years."

But other banks added to their ATM numbers.

BNZ boosted its ATM numbers by 84 to 633, ASB added 18 and Kiwibank 13.

Staff numbers were also cut across the banks by 224 to 25,141 although some banks cut staff while others added to their numbers.

Westpac made the biggest cuts dropping its number of workers by 208 to 4124. While ANZ cut its staff by 191 to 7374.

The Westpac spokesman said most of the reduction in its employee numbers was a result of attrition and included positions from across the bank.

ANZ said its staff numbers reduced mostly from it head office due to attrition.

BNZ reduced its headcount by 84 while Kiwibank cut back by two.

However ASB bank increased its number of workers by 175 to 4961.