Another Australian bank closes branches, trumpeting 'cashless society' shift

Bankwest accelerates 'almost solely digital' strategy, leaving customers outraged as it shuts down three more branches.

Another Australian bank closes branches trumpeting 'cashless society' shift
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In a touted move towards a primarily digital future, Bankwest, a major Australian bank, has closed three more branches in Western Australia, embracing its commitment to an "almost solely digital" strategy.

Bankwest, a subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), has shut down branches in Armadale, Perth, Maddington in Perth's southeast, and Kununurra on the WA-NT border.

The closures come as part of the bank's broader initiative to promote digital banking and 'cater to the evolving preferences' of its 1.1 million customers across Australia.

A recent incident involving a frustrated customer, Graeme Reid, highlighted the challenges faced by those seeking traditional banking services.

Reid, living in the rural town of Latham, had to undertake a 130km journey to Dalwallinu, the nearest Bankwest branch, only to be informed that cash withdrawals were no longer available, prompting him to remark, "If you can't get money out of a bank, you may as well close."

Bankwest's decision to shift towards digital services follows the closure of all 14 east coast branches in 2022 and additional closures in Perth in 2023.

The bank's general manager of personal banking, Scott Spittles, stated that over-the-counter transactions have declined by 44% in the past three years, with digital payments now constituting 97% of transactions.

While CBA has committed not to close more branches until 2026, Bankwest has yet to make a similar pledge, emphasising its 'strategic focus' on becoming predominantly digital.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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