Banking task force to look at impact of bank closures on regional communities

It is 9am at the local newsagency in the quiet northern Victorian town of Mooroopna, and the air is buzzing with the news the local National Australia Bank branch, just a few doors down, is set to close its doors on January 20.

Key points:
A growing number of regional bank branches are closing due to downturns in foot traffic
The federal government has established a regional banking taskforce to address this
The taskforce will assess the impacts of branch closures on regional communities, and generate solutions
NAB says it is because an increasing number of people are banking digitally.

More than 93 per cent of its customer interactions now take place via phone, video or online.

But for locals who rely on the local branch, it is gutting.

“They’re basically saying, ‘Look, we’re done, we’re moving on, and you’ll just have to adjust,'” Jones’ Newsagency owner Andrew Jones said.

“But some locals aren’t going to be able to adjust.”

Regional banking task force searches for solutions
Mooroopna is just one of many regional Australian communities reeling from yet another bank branch closure.

Data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) data shows in June 2017. There were almost 2,500 bank branches outside Australia’s major cities.

By June this year, that number had slumped by almost 30 per cent to 1896, with an average of 100 branches closing per year.

It is a worrying trend for regional residents and businesses — and there are concerns it could accelerate in the wake of COVID-19.

The federal government has just established a regional banking task force to assess the impact branch closures are having on regional communities.

“We know that banks like it when people start banking online,” co-chair Senator Perin Davey said.

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