BNZ and ANZ plan to ditch cheques next year, following the move by Kiwibank which stopped accepting cheques at the end of February this year.

The BNZ will phase out cheques by July 2021, while the ANZ has yet to put a date on its cut-off.

Paul Carter, chief customer officer at the BNZ said the number of customers using cheques had been steadily declining over the past five years and the increased use of digital and online services over the lockdown period has hastened that decline.

"We're giving ourselves and our customers plenty of runway to work with and our teams will be working proactively with customers over the coming 12 months to help them understand the transition and support options available.

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Carter said it had alternative solutions for the majority of the services that traditionally used cheques and would ensure that by July 2021 everybody that uses cheques had an alternative way to access banking services.

An ANZ spokesman said it would be phasing out cheques next year but was still working on the exact timing.

"We'll be letting customers know in the next couple of months."

The spokesman said cheque use had declined 20 per cent year on year from 2017 to 2018 and continued to decline as customers chose alternative digital methods.

"Fewer than 1 per cent of our customers now use cheques regularly," he added.

Cheque use in New Zealand has been on a steep decline for the last 10 years.

Payments New Zealand figures show there were 120 electronic payments for every cheque written in 2018.

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That compares to 2010 where there was only 18 electronic payments for every cheque.

Kiwibank announced it was ditching cheques in May last year and stopped issuing new cheque books in September last year.

Banks have been operating during the lockdown as essential services but have only had some branches open for limited hours on one or two days a week.

BNZ will stop taking cheques from July 2021. Photo / file
BNZ will stop taking cheques from July 2021. Photo / file

Under alert level 2 BNZ said it would open its branches and resume normal operating hours from Thursday but would retain some measures used during level 3 and 4.

Carter said it would keep using a controlled entry system to manage physical distancing and its express deposit towers would remain closed.

All financial health checks and other personal services would be done by phone or video conferencing and its BNZ Partners Centres would remain closed to business customers.

"We appreciate that for some of our customers the move to ATMs and online banking is a challenge and our people will be on hand to support them when they visit our branches," Carter said.

Other banks will also open further from Monday.

Kiwibank said most of its branches will return to full operating hours as of Monday.

Kiwibank general manager of retail Geoff Waller said: "We will continue to observe distancing requirements and controlled entry to branches but customers will be pleased to know we'll be able to resume offering full services with only a few exceptions.

"Services like large coin deposits still pose a bit of a risk, so we will be encouraging customers to utilise the drop box where possible.

Waller said the bank would have strict guidelines for cleaning, and physical distancing would be observed at all times.

"Our larger meeting rooms, where we can ensure adequate physical distancing, will be available for those more complex and private banking conversations."

He said Kiwibank service agents would open where and when they could, but were dependent on staffing availability at host businesses such as bookstores and pharmacies.

Despite the increased branch availability, Waller said Kiwibank was encouraging customers to continue to use its online and phone services where possible.

ASB will open a further 12 branches from Monday and increase operating hours with branches opening from 10am and closing at either 2pm or 4.30pm depending on need.

It will also have a priority hour for customers over age 70 between 9am and 10am.

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