Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has praised the promise by New Zealand’s biggest banks not to close any provincial branches while the Coalition Government trials regional banking hubs across the country.
The Minister said the announce was the “first sign of hope for regional communities”, many of which have lost their face-to-face banking facilities.
From next year, banking hubs – which will provide basic transactions services like cash withdrawals, deposits and account transfers – will be trialed in Martinborough, Opunake, Stoke and Twizel.
Each hub will have a multi-branded Smart ATM as well as a support person to provide assistance.
Last year, Minister Jones lashed out at the big banks for scaling down their services in the regions despite recording record profits in the country. He took up the issue with Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Associate Finance Minister David Parker, and Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr to discuss a possible solution.
Minister Jones said whānau, personal and business finances require close contact with a bank and many people prefer face-to-face contact over online services to manage their financial matters.
"For many people in regional New Zealand, that choice had been taken away from them."
He added that he thinks the participating banks would be surprised by the enthusiasm of which these communities will embrace the new banking hubs.