Westpac says branches are important to communities

Westpac has announced a moratorium on further regional bank branch closures until 2027.

Westpac’s Jason Yetton has posted a YouTube video where he highlights the importance of face-to-face service, cash and bank branches to towns and rural communities.

That's great to hear from Australia's number two bank but is kinda weird because Westpac has closed at least 195 branches outside the capital cities in recent years.

“When I talk to people in regional Australia the most important thing they say is they want us to stay, that’s because they need banking services,” says Jason Yetton in the YouTube video post.

Mr Yetton is Westpac’s Chief Executive of Consumer Division and continues:

“That does take the form of digital services but for a lot of them, face-to-face is really important.

“So they want us to stay. They know their bankers, the bankers are part of their communities, it’s an important part of us helping them to prosper and grow in the future.”

This is quite refreshing to hear because in recent years banks have been reluctant to admit that communities rely on face-to-face banking services and access to physical cash.

That wasn’t always the case. Here is a TV ad from ANZ Bank in 2004 featuring Daleks, Cybermen all aimed at selling their Australian call centre’s human touch.

Big banks sit at the heart of our financial system, even more than in the past because all Australians must have a bank account in order get paid. So banks need to provide us with services and access to our money in our local communities. If banks close a branch or an ATM they need to explain their plan for how their customers can access cash and banking services.

Macquarie Bank will no longer deal in cash at any of its 15 branches in Australia. Macquarie Bank is Australia’s sixth largest retail bank but has never had an extensive branch network. Cheques are also being phased out, along with cash, from the 20 May 2024.

Here I am with Chris O’Keefe on 2GB last week talking about Macquarie Bank going cashless (from 41.00 minutes). At least Macquarie Bank provides its customers with fee-free ATM withdrawals in Australia and overseas.

If the banks won’t act to protect our access to cash, the government must step in and this is increasingly happening around the world.

New Zealand is currently ensuring every rural town has a ‘cash hub‘ because most Kiwis use cash everyday.

Generally, it feels like banks are always steering us toward digital transactions. Commonwealth Bank wants to ban cash transactions over $500.

If Australians (and New Zealanders) don't insist on our right to choose how we pay for essential goods and services and our right to access cash, we will lose this essential national infrastructure - the cash system.

Only cash is private, reliable and surcharge-free. Only cash is inclusive and makes budgeting easy. Please share our petition calling for government to protect our right to access cash and our right to sue cash to buy food and essential groceries:


Our campaign is now huge and making a big difference. Here is Natalie Barr on Sunrise talking about cash.

Please check out our Cash Welcome online shop or support our message by making a contribution to our gofundme account.

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