Banking News

Banks Expand Regional Banking Hubs Trial


The New Zealand Bankers’ Association and the six
participating banks have decided to expand the regional
banking hubs trial until the end of 2023, opening four new
model hubs and adapting the existing four.

The Finance
Minister launched NZBA’s regional banking hubs trial in
November 2020, with hubs opened in Martinborough, Ōpunake,
Stoke and Twizel. The four new hubs will be in Whangamatā,
Ōpōtiki, Tūrangi and Waimate, subject to consultation
with the communities, and are expected to open by the middle
of 2023. Where Kiwibank services are already provided in a
town via a Kiwibank Local, Kiwibank will not operate from
that hub.

The second phase of the trial includes the
following key components:

  • Four new model
    hubs
  • Current hubs continued with
    improvements
  • The FinCap partnership, which includes
    local banking collaborations
  • Regional branch closure
    commitment extended until the end of 2023.

The
original four hubs are largely based in towns with fewer
than 2000 people. The new hubs, with their increased
services, will test demand in larger towns. The criteria for
new model hubs are towns with more than 3000 people, at
least half an hour’s drive from an existing bank
branch.

The four new hubs will have a Smart ATM and
full cash change services, a full-time dedicated concierge,
an employee from each bank available on site for a few hours
on separate weekdays, a private meeting room, and private
areas for phone and internet banking.

New Zealand
Bankers’ Association chief executive Roger Beaumont says
the trial and associated research has provided extremely
useful insights into regional banking, despite significant
changes in customer banking behaviour and Covid-19 alert
level interruptions.

“The banks have looked closely
at the data, feedback, and research undertaken over the
course of the trial and decided to expand the hubs
concept,” says Beaumont. “We look forward to the next
phase of the trial.

“The past 12 months have been a
difficult time to run a trial, with major changes in
customer behaviour accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and
regular changes in alert levels. We intend to run the next
phase until the end of 2023, to give these dynamic changes
time to pan out.

“We look forward to working closely
with the communities in the hub towns as we work on an
industry-led solution to community concerns about regional
banking.

The banks participating in the regional
banking hubs trial are ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Kiwibank, TSB and
Westpac.

These banks are renewing their commitment to
not close regional branches until the end of 2023. The
renewed commitment is the same as before – it does not
include branches within the six main urban centres of
Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and
Dunedin. It also does not cover TSB’s network in
Taranaki.

“Another important part of the
industry’s support for access to banking services in small
towns where branches are no longer viable, or never existed,
comes through NZBA’s funding partnership with FinCap. We
have committed $5 million over five years to help financial
mentors make a real difference for people in the communities
they support. Part of the funding is for banking
collaboration projects where mentors help clients access
banking services,” says
Beaumont.

© Scoop Media

 



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