back to article Australian bank stops handling cash at the counter in some branches

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ Bank) has stopped handling cash over the counter at some branches. "There are a small number of branches where we no longer handle cash at a counter," a spokesperson for the 570-branch bank, which posted an AU8$ billion ($5.84n) profit last year, told The Register. "At these …

  1. david 12 Silver badge

    Government decisions

    The government has vacated the field, in favour of the big credit card companies.

    The problem is, with 5c coins still in circulation, retail continues to price in 5c increments -- which means that payments and change involves 5c increments. The 50c coin is approximately the real value of 1c at the time of decimilsation in 1966, which means that people dealing with cash are effectively dealing with 0.02 pence increments in the old money.

    If we went back to the useful coin values, using cash for transactions wouldn't involve handfuls of useless change, which would be faster and easier -- like it used to be. Which would remove one of the major pain points, and bring cash closer to parity with credit cards.

    1. VicMortimer Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Government decisions

      OOOHHH, look at you and your "Nothing smaller than 5¢" coins.

      We've still got pennies in the US.

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

        Re: Government decisions

        And the copper penny is actually worth more, based on the price of copper, that the domination on its face.

        Which is one of the reason pennies are becoming scarce.

  2. heyrick Silver badge

    Uhhh...

    This has been France (at least rural communities) for over a decade.

    Also means it's pretty much not useful to try robbing a bank. The amount of available money is tiny, it's all in the machine and that is handled out of hours by an employee who has the key. For a while there were signs saying this, but now it's just assumed that if you want cash you either talk to a machine or fill out a special order form.

    (makes it spectacularly awkward if you want a bunch of coins for doing boot sales)

    1. abetancort

      Re: Uhhh...

      In Spain, it has been going on for a while too. CaixaBank, the largest Spanish bank, has a lot of offices that don't handle common transactions in person but you can still do them, if you know you are young enough and savvy, using the ATM present in these offices.

      1. moonhaus

        Re: Uhhh...

        In the UK they just closed most of the bank branches so they now don't do anything. An ATM for deposits? Pah, we dream of an ATM for deposits.

        1. Dave559 Silver badge

          Re: Uhhh...

          "An ATM for deposits? Pah, we dream of an ATM for deposits."

          TSB and many of the building societies (or former building societies) have had ATMs which take deposits for donkey's years…

          Quite why ye olde quill and parchment banks never caught up with this, I don't know…

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Uhhh...

      My local branch hasn't even had a counter since it was opened several years ago – just a small reception desk that isn't usually staffed, a few seats, and the ATMs (thankfully including coin machines). There are I believe some staff lurking out the back but I rarely see them. This is also in Australia so ANZ seem just to be playing catch up.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uhhh...

      The use of ATMs has been declining since 2008, with the number and value of ATM withdrawals falling by about 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively

      One of the reasons for the above is the removal of many ATM machines since that time. You cannot use that which you cannot find. ATMs are getting harder and harder to find in Australia outside of city centres. Fortunately you can withdraw cash at the supermarket in limited amounts, so perhaps people are doing this?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Uhhh...

        "Fortunately you can withdraw cash at the supermarket in limited amounts, so perhaps people are doing this?"

        Yeah, same in the UK. Most supermarkets will do "cash back" when paying by card or even the self-service till when paying by card. It's a useful service for the customers and helps the supermarket get rid of the cash they take so they pay less to bank it at the end of the day. One of the genuine win-win situations.

  3. The curmudgeonly one

    Another blow against anonymity

    It is increasingly difficult to keep a financial transaction secret. My wife knew what I had done about her birthday long before the day, because of bank statements and so on.

    Privacy? Anonymity? Secret Santa? We don't need them.

    1. ChoHag Silver badge

      Re: Another blow against anonymity

      You should not be keeping secrets from your wife, comrade, nor your government.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another blow against anonymity

        and even harbouring such unhealthy ideas is THOUGHT CRIME, watch it, comrade.

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    more than a 50 per cent decline in in-branch transactions

    How much of that is customer choice and how much is increased distance to fewer branches, opening hours and queuing times?

    1. Mishak Silver badge

      Opening hours

      My "local" branch is now only open from 09:30 to 16:30 Monday to Friday, so the only way anyone who works out of the area can get to it is by taking time off.

      I can no longer think of a reason not to dump them and move everything to an online-only bank.

      I recently tried to open an account for a business with a different bank in the same town (during the day), and was told I would have to make a 1 hour (each way) trip to another branch as local branches are no longer able to process business applications. I went with Starling instead - everything done online in a matter of minutes with no paper form-filling. It's time for the dinosaurs to go extinct...

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Opening hours

        I can no longer think of a reason not to dump them and move everything to an online-only bank.

        Yes, this is what the bank is hoping you will do. Times have changed, counter services are not necessary any more. Just like coal merchants.

        The traditional High Street names all offer their service online too.

        Cash! I remember cash, long time since I dealt with any. My daughter has no need of it and when her grandfather gave her some on a milestone birthday, she didn’t know what to do with it. She passed it to us, and we banked it though an ATM and transferred the amount to her account.

        So, her grandfather got it out of an ATM, passed it to her, she passed it to us, we put it back in the ATM.

        What was the point of that?

        1. Julz

          Re: Opening hours

          Strange you got a slue of down votes for that comment. However, isn't your description just that of normal commerce and has the advantage of nudging up our GDP.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Opening hours

          I was recently in the fortunate position of wanting to pay the last £56K of my mortgage off (but unfortunate, as the means to do this came from my Father's demise), and found it impossible to do remotely.

          There were just so many checks as a result of anti-fraud measures that nothing I tried to do remotely was allowed, and this was even engaging the telephone banking that I have access to from my bank.

          It wasn't helped by the fact that the mortgage company wanted it paid off in a single lump sum (unable to make more than one out-of-band payment per year), but could only give me a settlement balance valid for 48 hours.

          So I had to take time off work, arrange a visit to the bank (with the bank themselves, as they don't normally have enough staff to handle long transactions), get a current settlement balance over the phone, go to the bank, then do all the identity check and fraud protection checks, and then answer "are you sure you trust the recipient" question several times (even though the bank staff could see that it was going to the mortgage provider that I had been making regular payments to for close to 15 years). Even then, because of the banking processes, the two staff present in the bank both had to be involved, to check each other to make sure that they were following their anti-fraud procedures.

          It took about 45 minutes to finally complete the transaction, and all the time we were doing it, the queue behind us was getting longer and longer (even though we had asked to do it at a time the bank was less busy). I felt sorry for the staff, as the other customers were getting restless.

          I have no idea how I would have done this if I didn't have access to a bricks-and-mortar bank. There needs to be some better way for ordinary people to handle this type of transaction, but the banks conveniently overlook the small number of difficult transactions, and only provide the means of doing the majority of what happens regularly. I'd say that it's the 80/20 rule in operation, but in this case, it's probably more like 95/5.

          1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

            Re: Opening hours

            Doing something like this is very difficult in the US also. Any transaction over $20K gets flagged for money laundering investigation and mountains of documentation must be done to prevent the Feds from paying you a visit.

            "It wasn't helped by the fact that the mortgage company wanted it paid off in a single lump sum (unable to make more than one out-of-band payment per year), but could only give me a settlement balance valid for 48 hours."

            Of course not! God forbid they lose out on that $0.003% of interest!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Opening hours

            Pay all but somewhere near your regular payment off. Then just let the payment discharge it or have a much smaller amount to quibble about.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: Opening hours

              Reading the small print of the details, the repayment rate was calculated once per year, and it was explained to me that even if you did make a large overpayment, this would not make a difference to the monthly payments until the next annual review (although changing interest rates would - they have it all their own way!) And it was also explained that what I referred to as an "out of band" payment (which was my terminology) included a large overpayment in place of the normal regular payment.

              I'm not sure what they would have done if I had, but I did not want to be on the hook for several months payments on a mortgage which had technically already been paid off.

              I did think of another solution, but it required engaging a solicitor or conveyancer. They have the means of paying large amounts of money in single remote transactions, as they do it all the time during house sales and purchases. But they would have charged a considerable fee.

              Anyway. All done now, and I don't expect to have to do such a thing again in my lifetime.

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Opening hours

        This may just be an Australian thing but in my experience banks have always had short opening hours. Back in the Jurassic when I was young they would close at 3pm to allow the tellers to count the money. When that process became automated they grudging extended closing time to 4pm. Still the case at my now tellerless branch.

        1. Mishak Silver badge

          Re: Opening hours

          Used to be the same in the UK - and they also closed for lunch, so no quick trip to the bank then either!

        2. vcragain

          Re: Opening hours

          I'M 83. I worked as an 18 yr old at a small Westminster bank branch in London's Victoria Street & when manually counting the cash it was a horror story every night as nobody was allowed to go home until the cash was balanced - sometimes that meant a total recount - I remember cashiers with red faces getting really scared when things were off & a real sense of terror in case they couldn't resolve the issue. It always did get resolved eventually, but i'm not sure what would have happened if not - was it firing squad at dawn time ? I did not stay in banking for my lifetime career !

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Opening hours

            That is the reason why banks in the UK used to close their counters at 3:30PM, to give time for the reconciliation while still allowing their staff to leave at a normal time on most days.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Opening hours

        My local credit union branches are typically open 9-6 M-F, 9-noon Saturdays.

        And they're not planning on ditching cash any time soon. There are plenty of businesses here that only take cash, doing business in cash doesn't cost them anything, credit/debit cards charge them fees.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Opening hours

          Don't business bank accounts charge for each and every deposit and withdrawal there? Or is it just that that works out cheaper than the credit card charges? I know of businesses here in the UK that will only take debits cards because there's a fixed minimal fee per transaction, unlike credit cards which, I think, are a percentage of the transaction with a minimum charge higher than the debit card transaction.

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Opening hours

        "My "local" branch is now only open from 09:30 to 16:30 Monday to Friday,"

        It's only been the last couple of decade since UK bank branches caught up to the rest of the world and opened longer hours. The trial has now ended and they are back to "proper bankers hours" :-)

  5. Bluest Thinking

    SAY NO TO PROGRAMMABLE CBDC.

    This is the start of the slippery slope to wards the removal of cash and the replacement with CBDC. Central Bank Digital Currency. Happy to go CBDC but dead against any 'programmable' CBDC. A programmable CBDC gives Government total power over citizens and their spending habits, taxation, travel rights etc. SAY NO TO PROGRAMMABLE CBDC.

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Re: SAY NO TO PROGRAMMABLE CBDC.

      Some people will think you're paranoid, but you're really not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SAY NO TO PROGRAMMABLE CBDC.

        but it's for your own good, and who'd oppose this?! Only those paranoid ones! qed.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK banking is heading that way, too

    I run a small business that's about 90% home-owner focused. Depending on the work involved, transactions can well be sub-£100 (110 USD). Before Covid, around 80% of these smaller transactions were cash and that meant carrying significant sums around until someone could get to a branch to pay it all in. This also meant paying a 'cash handling fee' at the branch (imagine: having the outright temerity of wanting to put money into the account!) AND a 'counter fee' for visiting the branch. I forget the exact figures but the cash fee was 1-2% of the value being transacted.

    Now, getting cash into a bank in the UK isn't easy these days: finding a branch is hard enough - they're in town centres mostly - but therein lies the problem for a commercial vehicle operator: all the towns with banks near here have multi-story car parks and we can't fit our vehicles in them, which means a long walk from the town-edge car parks or a quiet side street (obviously, when someone's carrying several thousand Pounds in used notes, you want to minimise your exposure to risk). Fortunately, the Post Office have a scheme whereby cash can be paid in over the counter and they transfer it to the bank. Given that scheme, it makes no sense to continue banking with a high street 'name' and I moved the business to an online-only bank in April last year.

    During Covid, our services were still required (we are in a healthcare-related field) and the vast majority of these smaller sales moved to using a card reader, both for the non-contact nature of the transaction and because people weren't going outside and, therefore, didn't have cash in the home. Interestingly, post Covid, we haven't seen cash sales go back up: around 90% of all transactions are now done via contactless card readers. I suspect this is mostly due to a change in habits after, what, eighteen months of lockdowns and inconvenience - but we were seeing a gradual rise of card sales in the three years before the virus anyway; I think the virus simply accelerated the uptake.

    In short, we wouldn't see a significant change in habit if the UK banks followed the Aus. system and stopped handling cash (providing the P.O. carry on their counter-service - and that's another issue that's slowly becoming a problem). I imagine a very large number of tradespeople could well operate without cash, too - but I imagine it'd make it harder for some who operate in...interesting...ways: We are sometimes asked 'How much for cash?' and traders who entertain that concept might struggle to hide these novel payments if everything is logged electronically.

    Shops already take cards - so no change for them (see what I did there?) but the big losers in a cashless model are the occasional traders: car boot-ers, the parent selling off reusable children's toys, etc. because buying a card reader and subscribing to a service model will be too much work for such infrequent use. Until that sector is adequately addressed, cash will still be required by some people - and so cash handling services shouldn't be suspended. Unfortunately, they make up such a small percentage of banking turnover, I fear they will be discarded as not relevant to the business model.

  7. mathew42
    Thumb Down

    > the loss of 864 bank branches and 517 ATMs between June 2020 and June 2022 means 95 percent of the population must travel an extra 100 meters to find a branch, or 200 meters to find a standalone cash machine.

    I find the RBA's Distance to Case Withdrawal graph more interesting.

    - In remote areas 95% live within 30km of a cash access point., To reach 99% the distance jumps to 60km.

    - In very remote areas 95% live within ~100km. 99% jumps to 180km.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Trollface

    But Madam

    Your nearest branch is located in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outside the big cities in the US, you still need some cash

    I don't see how they get away financing credit card companies by discouraging cash like this.

    A lot of small restaurants in the smaller towns have gotten tired of the gouging by credit card companies and have a charge for paying by credit card, which is pretty much the amount they get gouged for accepting a credit card. They don't have the margin to just absorb it. Some of the gas stations do it too, even though the credit card companies are fighting that tooth and nail.

    Also, I still need small change to do a tip (and a lot of my waitstaff deserves a large tip) and the ATM fucks me over by only putting out $20s, so I need to then turn around and either get some of those broken at the teller, or simply do my withdrawal there in the first place.

    I had to open a different credit card this weekend because most of the American cards charge a huge "dirty foreigner money" (foreign transaction) fee that they tack on when you buy something outside the country. I want to buy a 3D printer from Prusa in the Czech Republic and I didn't want to get boned for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Outside the big cities in the US, you still need some cash

      I'm going to take a wild guess that the USA's love of "freedom" and "liberty" means that the banks and credit card companies there can pretty much charge what they like in transaction fees, up to the point that the market will bear, whereas in most civilised countries the government steps in to set limits and avoid excessive price-gouging...? Damn that evil big guvmint interfering with muh freedoms!

      1. vcragain

        Re: Outside the big cities in the US, you still need some cash

        I'm a Brit living in the US - your statement pretty much sums up the whole 'Private Enterprise' mode that rules here. Basically that is 'free to screw over everybody as much as you can' ! Lovely !

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a small number of branches

    but I said nothing, because it didn't happen in my branch...

  11. MrGreen

    CBDC

    50% of cash points closed in the UK.

    Lots of restaurants are now cashless.

    CBDC is being promoted by the government.

    Get ready for the CBDC app which they’ll fool people in to downloading with an offer of £10 for free in your digital wallet.

    This is Digital ID by the back door. Full control and surveillance is imminent.

  12. Sherrie Ludwig

    I am happy to accept cash at my business

    Small time craftsperson/retailer here. I happily accept cash, as does my local bank. I deposit said cash at a teller window, since I don't like to watch my hard-earned cash disappear into a machine without a person counting it in front of me. I also accept card payments via Square, which has been nagging me to put all transactions through their app for a while. No thanks. understand the fee for processing card transactions, but I will be damned if they are taking a cut of my cash sales. Yes, I report and pay tax on all transactions, including the cash ones. They will just have to trust me on that, like they have up til now.

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