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One of Australia’s biggest banks is closing more branches in two big cities

Westpac says it's because more customers are doing digital banking but it has been called out for only caring about profits.

Westpac has revealed it will be closing five branches in two major Australian cities due to declining customer visits. This comes just a month after the bank announced it was cutting more than 130 jobs and sending some offshore.

Banks all across the country are trying to strategise as people choose to do the majority of their banking online. Bankwest recently said it was closing down or rebranding all remaining branches in Western Australia - the only state in which it has a physical presence.

Westpac said the latest round of bank closures would occur in Melbourne and Newcastle.

Westpac customer at ATM
Westpac will be closing four subsidiary branches in Melbourne and one in Newcastle. (Source: Getty)

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Four subsidiary Bank of Melbourne branches in Broadmeadows, Airport West, Werribee Plaza and South Morang will soon shut their doors, while it will share a banking hub with St George in Hamilton, NSW after the lease at its other Newcastle branch expired.

“With more choice in where customers do their banking and an increasing preference for digital, we’ve made the decision to close some branch locations,” chief customer engagement officer Ross Miller said.

“We have a robust process in place to assist employees to find new opportunities as we invest and grow our phone, digital and virtual offerings. In most cases, employees impacted will continue to work with Westpac.”

Miller said customers could use more than 500 branches acrosds the country for cash and cheque deposits as well as cash withdrawals. There are also almost 7,000 ATMs where customers can conduct fee-free withdrawals.

This follows Westpac rolling out new technology last year, connecting its network with St George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne.

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It’s unclear what will happen to the staff who work at the affected branches, however, Miller said, “In most cases, employees impacted will continue to work with Westpac”.

Westpac announced in March last year that it would be closing five branches in Mortdale and Neutral Bay (NSW), along with the St George branch in Queen St Brisbane, and Bank of Melbourne branches at Brimbank and Point Cook (Vic).

While the closures are the result of Australians changing the way they conduct their banking, Finance Sector Union (FSU) national president Wendy Streets stressed the country needed to have physical bank branches available across the country.

“This is not about customers preferring digital banking, as Westpac claims,” she said.

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“This is about nothing more than a bank that loves profits and cares little about people, including its customers and staff.

“Having booked a $1.5 billion first-quarter profit last month, you would think Westpac could continue to offer banking services to customers within its existing branch network.

“Instead Westpac continues to slash at its infrastructure and people. The FSU believes banks are an essential service and that all Australians should have the right to do their banking in the manner they choose instead of being driven into digital banking.”

What you need to know about the use of cash in Australia

  • Fewer people are using cash due to the convenience of paying with phones, watches and cards.

  • There isn’t a shortage of cash-withdrawal points, with around 20,000 ATMs plus supermarkets to collect from.

  • There’s about $100 billion in cash floating around Australia - or 2 billion notes.

  • The government has not indicated cash will be taken out of circulation.

  • The Big Four banks have all ruled out going cashless.

  • Average cash withdrawal has increased from $180 to $290.

  • RBA: ATM withdrawals dropped from 77.9 million in December 2008 to 29.7 million in June 2023.

  • Finder survey: 13 per cent of Aussies never use cash, 44 per cent use it once a week, and 42 per cent once a month or less.