Bankwest is now closing all branches in shift to 'digital-only' model

Commonwealth Bank's subsidiary Bankwest announced the closure of all its branches, transitioning to a cashless model, affecting staff and customers.

Bankwest is now closing all branches in shift to 'digital-only' model
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In a significant move within the Australian banking landscape, Commonwealth Bank's subsidiary, Bankwest, has declared the closure of all its branches, marking a complete shift towards a digital-only financial service model.

This decision, conveyed to both staff and customers, entails the closure or conversion of the remaining 60 Bankwest branches into Commonwealth Bank outlets by October.

While 15 Bankwest branches, situated in Western Australian country centres, will undergo conversion, the fate of the remaining 45 branches — 28 in Perth and 17 in regional WA — is set for closure.

Bankwest Executive General Manager, Jason Chan, justified the decision, citing the 'necessity to ensure the bank's sustainability,' albeit acknowledging the potential challenge it poses for some customers.

He stated, "By doing this now and going a little bit harder, we can unlock that investment and get those jobs and get that new capability and lift the experience for 97 per cent of customers using digital channels."

The move comes amidst declining patronage, with Bankwest's 550,000 customers in Western Australia no longer justifying the operational costs of maintaining branches across the vast state.

Branches, on average, handle a mere 30 over-the-counter transactions per day, with regional centres processing only 15.

Established in 1895 as the Agricultural Bank of Western Australia, Bankwest's transition signifies a strategic response to changing market dynamics. Acquired by Commonwealth Bank following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, Bankwest's evolution has seen a shift away from its original mission of business lending.

Despite growing into one of West Australia's largest home mortgage lenders, the downsizing of branches began, culminating in the closure of all east coast outlets by early 2023.

Criticisms regarding service accessibility, particularly in rural areas, have surfaced, with concerns raised over the impact on farmers and regional customers.

As Bankwest proceeds with its digital transformation, branches set for closure include Bunbury Forum, Busselton, Manjimup, Margaret River, Albany, Katanning, Esperance, Kalgoorlie, Merredin, Moora, Narrogin, Northam, Geraldton, Broome, Karratha, Kununurra, and Port Hedland, while several others are slated for conversion into Commonwealth Bank branches.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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