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Do we need suburban banks?

By johnboy 27 April 2010 20

In the last year I’ve once darkened the door of a bank, to deposit my coin box ($210).

So I could have made a substantial trip if need be.

Liberal Senator Gary Humphries is up in arms that the Commonwealth is closing their Curtin Branch.

But do we need suburban banks? Or would a branch in the major centres suffice?

Oldies and other socially excluded folk like the ritual of local banking, but is it the banks role to provide what is in essence a social service?

What’s Your opinion?


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Do we need suburban banks?
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NickD 8:10 pm 28 Apr 10

caf said :

Australian banks are hardly free enterprise though, NickD. They exist within an industry that is highly regulated, highly protected from outside competition and heavily supported by the Federal government, much of which increases the banks’ profitability. So it’s not immediately clear that there isn’t a mutual obligation argument that would justify some requirements on bank branch locations – a bank (in this country, at least) is fundamentally a different kettle of fish from most other enterprises.

I have a lot of sympathy with that argument, however it isn’t what Gary Humphries is proposing – he just wants this particular branch to stay open. If the Liberals were to develop a policy in which banks were required to meet community service requirements they’d be serious about the issue, but this is just populist grandstanding.

Mothy 11:59 am 28 Apr 10

54-11 said :

Particularly after the bailout, when the governmnet underwrote deposits, thus enabling banks to retain their credit ratings, the major banks owe their consumers a lot. It’s time that either the banks face up to their responsibilities, or they lose their substantial taxpayer support.

Yeah, cause we’d have all been much better off during the GFC if deposits hadn’t been guaranteed. As soon as one institution hit the papers saying they were having liquidity troubles, the great thundering heard would have been demanding their cash out of their institution too, and we’d have seen a collapse. I can see how you hold a grudge against the gummint for that that….

*To the mentally numb – there’s sarcasm in the above, FYI*

Look, as much of a community sport as bank bashing is, I have to ask – how many of those of you with a grudge have actually voted with your feet? Got an account with one of the 4 majors? Then you’re part of the “problem” you’re identifying.

Why not Suncorp, Bendigo and Adelaide, Bank of Queensland, ME Bank, ING? Why not one of the 11 Building Societies or 117 Credit Unions in existence?

Why no grudge against any of them for having no presence in Curtin to begin with?

Simple – we’re creatures of habbit. It’s too much trouble to change banks. To much hassle to retaliate against a closed branch by moving elsewhere. Those of you who have done just that, kudos, but you’re the exception not the rule – they still know they can shaft a customer base and retain a given % of it, who are too apathetic to move.

Don’t go blaming the banks for existing in an industry that’s…

caf said :

highly protected from outside competition and heavily supported by the Federal government

…because options exist. It just takes a bit of effort.

p1 9:52 am 28 Apr 10

Note for the young uns reading this: The CBA was owned by government until the ALP sold it off. That’s about the time banks lost sight of being good corporate citizens.

What, gov’ts selling of state assets? Never!

If some people don’t have the capacity to use internet banking, change that.

Sounds like a job for the National Broadband Network….

MrPC 9:24 am 28 Apr 10

Once today’s geezers are six feet under, banks will be able to ditch most of their branches and their surviving customers will still manage to get on with their lives.

I can’t stand branches. Too many elderly people talking slowly, walking slowly, chatting with the tellers with 10+ people queued behind them, when I am trying to get in and out on my lunch break. Fortunately I’ve only had to go to a branch three times in the last two years.

It’s hard to feel more than minimal sympathy when you hear stories like “Elderly woman mugged for $500 which she withdrew to buy groceries and pay for tiling work”. If you are elderly, you are an easy target, and should carry around as little cash as possible. Simply use EFTPOS for the groceries and Visa Debit for the tradie, and Bob’s your uncle.

Woody Mann-Caruso 9:23 am 28 Apr 10

Who are these elderly people who can walk uphill to the bank but not the bus stop directly in front of it? If they can’t drive and can’t catch the bus, why do they need a bank at all? The only place they can shop is Curtin, in which case all they need is a debit card. Pension / earnings go into account, cash comes out of ATM (if they can use a push button phone, they can use an ATM), card gets them whatever they want at Coles. If they’ve got a huge wad of cash to deposit, fork out for a taxi already. If it’s a cheque, post it – or deposit it at the post office instead.

housebound 8:12 am 28 Apr 10

Banks are indeed a social service. As others have pointed out, the banks are propped up by taxpayers, so they should provide more service than just selling us banking services at a multi-million dollar profit.

Note for the young uns reading this: The CBA was owned by government until the ALP sold it off. That’s about the time banks lost sight of being good corporate citizens.

Weaselburger 8:06 am 28 Apr 10

I think there should be Universal Banks in Suburbs just like they have ATM’s that take any keycard. It would save a lot of hassle to be able to just go anywhere instead of locations depending on your bank

trevar 7:23 am 28 Apr 10

I’ve been a member of the Teachers Credit Union for the last couple of decades, and they didn’t even have a branch in Canberra, let alone my suburb. The couple of times I’ve taken out a loan, I drove to Sydney to sign the papers, and before online banking came along, Australia Post was perfectly adequate. I think bank branches are a waste of time.

If some people don’t have the capacity to use internet banking, change that. It’s cheaper than changing the profitability of suburban bank branches and has other benefits as well (like access to Medicare, Centrelink, etc.). If there’s no Medicare or Centrelink office in Curtin, why do they need a bank?

The best bank I’ve dealt with is Ing; they have no branches at all, and they’re the only one that’s never made a mistake in any of my dealings with them. Perhaps branches are the problem with the other banks?

caf 11:13 pm 27 Apr 10

Australian banks are hardly free enterprise though, NickD. They exist within an industry that is highly regulated, highly protected from outside competition and heavily supported by the Federal government, much of which increases the banks’ profitability. So it’s not immediately clear that there isn’t a mutual obligation argument that would justify some requirements on bank branch locations – a bank (in this country, at least) is fundamentally a different kettle of fish from most other enterprises.

cleo 10:10 pm 27 Apr 10

NickD Not all elderly people drive, can’t rely on the buser’s

Ian 10:00 pm 27 Apr 10

They’re being a bit precious in Curtin I think. Wow, they have to go 5 mins down the road to Woden where there are umpteen banks to choose from.

Aeek 9:21 pm 27 Apr 10

No bank at Ainslie Shops, and they are thriving.

54-11 9:19 pm 27 Apr 10

JB, you’re wrong on this one. The 4 pillars protects banks like CBA, and in return they have a obligation to provide services such as suburban banks.

If they are not willing to do that, then the governmnet needs to open up consumer banking to all comers. Particularly after the bailout, when the governmnet underwrote deposits, thus enabling banks to retain their credit ratings, the major banks owe their consumers a lot.

It’s time that either the banks face up to their responsibilities, or they lose their substantial taxpayer support.

bd84 9:16 pm 27 Apr 10

While fighting for the local branch could be a good idea in some cases, at the end of the day the local branch needs a sufficient number of customers through the door each day to make the branch viable. In most cases the banks have do actually have valid supporting claims for branch closure.

Curtin is a very small group centre with only about a dozen businesses, the branch there was always going to close at some point, it’s probably lasted longer than most. If you want an example of a larger shopping centre surviving without a bank branch, take a look at Erindale. It is about 3 times the size and no branch to be seen, I don’t think there was ever a branch of any bank there either. Curtin will live on, and the residents will take the 5 minute bus ride to Woden to do their banking, which I’d dare say the vast majority already do.

p1 8:39 pm 27 Apr 10

I don’t see how providing one of the most important services to people – people that may be without the means to travel easily or the ability to use phone or internet banking – is a social service.

You mean like centrelink provides income to “people that may be without the means to travel easily or the ability to” find income for them selves? Sounds exactly like a social service to me…

arescarti42 8:22 pm 27 Apr 10

I think it is unrealistic and unreasonable to expect the CBA to stay in Curtin. It’s not like we’re talking about a school or a library or something, this is a Bank, a for profit organisation that exists solely for the purpose of generating profit.

Tuggeranong for example, has one CBA branch and a population of around 90,000 people, whilst Curtin has a population of around 5000.

I understand the Bank provides a valuable service to socially excluded and mobility impaired people, but the CBA at Woden is less than 3km away. It really isn’t the job of a bank to be providing social services, that’s role of government.

NickD 7:43 pm 27 Apr 10

How weird and embarrassing. I get the point that it’s a real problem for small business owners if there isn’t a local bank where they can deposit cash and the minority of the population who still don’t use internet/phone banking will be inconvenienced, but it’s a bit strange that what claims to be the party of small government and free enterprise is seeking to tell banks where they should have branches. There are also lots of banks in Woden Town Centre, which is only a 5 minute drive from Curtin.

Kal-el 7:30 pm 27 Apr 10

I hope the tone of this piece is intended to provoke comment and not your actual opinion. I don’t see how providing one of the most important services to people – people that may be without the means to travel easily or the ability to use phone or internet banking – is a social service.

Banks have a responsibility to all of their customers, not just those like yourself Johnboy.

threepaws 7:04 pm 27 Apr 10

Provided you have a keycard, all Australia Post outlets (including the ones tucked away in newsagencies etc) provide banking services like deposits, withdrawls and account balances, and they even offer services to those with passbooks (remember them?).

Of the major banks, ANZ and Westpac are not part of the Aussie Post banking services http://auspost.com.au/personal/personal-banking-at-australia-post.html

People can still ‘enjoy’ the experience of a face to face banking transaction without a branch of every bank conveniently located in every local shopping precinct.

I myself prefer to never set foot in a bank if at all possible…

p1 6:49 pm 27 Apr 10

If only a the government owned a bank, and could provide that social service while benefiting from some of the millions of dollars of profit the banking industry has been raking in.

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