Otago Daily Times

Winton set to lose two banks

- KAREN PASCO

THE unforeseen news Winton’s Westpac bank could be closing came as a shock to residents and business owners in the town yesterday.

A statement of confirmati­on from Westpac NZ said the bank had begun consultati­on with its Winton employees about the possible closure of the branch.

Despite a Westpac spokesman saying it was a proposed closure, the bank was already in talks with its staff, three of whom would be transferre­d to Invercargi­ll.

‘‘One role would be disestabli­shed, and we are working with that team member to discuss their options.’’

The news came as a double blow for people of the township and surroundin­g area, who last year heard Winton’s BNZ branch would also be closing, the bank confirming yesterday it would shut its doors by the end of June.

However, business owners in the town were yesterday more worried about the older generation than being inconvenie­nced themselves.

Big White Shop owner Natasha Milne, who banks with both Westpac and BNZ, said she had no knowledge of Westpac’s plans.

‘‘Oh my god, that’s going to be interestin­g for Winton,’’ she said.

‘‘I wasn’t aware it was happening but it doesn’t surprise me.’’

She said the shop did not have a lot of cash as most people completed purchases through the eftpos machine, but she had concerns for the elderly.

‘‘Some people like to bank the oldfashion­ed way,’’ she said.

She was concerned for those who did not have transport to be able to get to banks in Invercargi­ll and who did not want to use the internet or were at risk of succumbing to scammers if they did.

Westpac’s hours had reduced and the bank was shut for an extended time during the Christmas break, she said.

Agribusine­ss owner Rosemary Thomas, who tried to enter the closed Westpac bank midafterno­on yesterday, said while she used the bank’s ATM the majority of the time, she would now have to travel to Invercargi­ll to get historic informatio­n.

‘‘Sure I’ve got an iPhone which I do most of my banking [with] online, but the particular informatio­n I’m requiring at this time is historical and my phone won’t go back further than 2018.’’

She was also a customer of both banks and said it was the convenienc­e of being able to communicat­e directly with staff that she would miss.

Winton Middle Pub manager Deejay said the closure of the BNZ would affect his daytoday business.

As well as possibly needing a security firm to take bankings once a week at extra cost, he was unsure how he would be able to get coins for the pokies or $20 notes for the ATM inside the pub.

The Westpac spokesman said customers would be able to use other banks’ ATMs free of charge.

‘‘Our two Invercargi­ll branches offer a full range of banking services from Monday to Friday and also have 24hour Smart ATMs, which accept deposits and bill payments.’’

Nationally, Westpac’s overthecou­nter transactio­ns had fallen by 65% in the past four years, there being 100 logins to online banking for each transactio­n in a branch.

‘‘Most households in New Zealand have access to either a computer, landline or mobile phone which gives them 24hour access to banking. We encourage customers to talk to us about their banking options,’’ the spokesman said.

BNZ spokesman Sam Durbin said the decision to close its Winton branch was not made lightly.

‘‘Our customers simply aren’t visiting some of our branches — in the last six months, fewer than 350 people have used the Winton branch on more than one occasion, and around threequart­ers of the customers who have accounts based at that branch are digitally active.’’

When the branch closed, there would be a Smart ATM with note and coin deposit, he said.

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 ?? PHOTOS: KAREN PASCO ?? Banking on inconvenie­nce . . . Winton’s Middle Pub general manager Deejay says the proposed closure of two banks will have a big impact on the town and the daytoday running of the business.
PHOTOS: KAREN PASCO Banking on inconvenie­nce . . . Winton’s Middle Pub general manager Deejay says the proposed closure of two banks will have a big impact on the town and the daytoday running of the business.
 ??  ?? The BNZ in Winton
The BNZ in Winton
 ??  ?? Westpac’s Winton branch.
Westpac’s Winton branch.

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