Business

BNZ: Regional branches safe for three years

The Bank of New Zealand has promised to keep its regional branch network at its current level at least until 2022.

BNZ chief customer officer Paul Carter said an increasing amount of business is done digitally, but there was still demand for physical branches and the specialist services they could give.

"We are very focused on being accessible and available to all our customers. Across New Zealand, our branches play an important part in us 'being there' for communities and we will continue to support those that we're established in.

"We're seeing our customers seeking out our branch teams to help guide them through key moments like buying a new home, setting up KiwiSaver or to help them learn how to use our new digital tools," Carter said.

All the major banks have been closing physical branches in regional areas in recent years, citing falling patronage and rising costs.

Carter said BNZ would put effort into making customers more comfortable and knowledgeable about digital banking.

"We have a central role to take in improving New Zealanders' financial well-being and part of that is to support them being more digitally skilled. Our branches play a key part in making this happen."

However, the no branch closure policy does not appear to apply to big cities.

Carter said the BNZ would keep a strong presence in the major metropolitan areas, but would be "responsive" to their changing shape.

Last month, BNZ said it would also start a mobile banking service for small towns, starting in Whanganui-Manawatu.

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