Bank branches closing as Aussies move online

Peter Terlato 25 August 2016

Online Banking

Banks, building societies and credit unions cull branches.

Australia's financial institutions are actively reducing the number of bricks-and-mortar branches they operate, owing to the significant advancement of online money management.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released findings from its 2016 authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) points of presence report, which show a 5% year-on-year reduction in the number of financial institutions offering a "branch level of service".

At 30 June 2016, there were 5,357 bank branches in Australia, representing a modest reduction of 123 branches or 2% year-on-year from June 2015.

Building societies closed a whopping 122 branches, down 62%, leaving just 76 as at June 2016. Credit union branches totalled 468 at June 2016, a 13% year-on-year reduction. Many credit unions have rebranded as banks in the last year.

Institutions located in highly accessible areas saw around 4% of branches close their doors in 2016, while those in more isolated locations experienced the greatest percentage of closures.

For example, there were just 125 branches in "remote" areas of Australia in 2016, down 17% from 150 in 2015.

State by state

South Australia (8%), Queensland (7%), Western Australia (5%) and Tasmania (5%) had the highest proportion of branch closures in the last 12 months.

However, politicians in Canberra must fancy face-to-face banking, considering just two branches (2%) have ceased trading since 2015.

Earlier this month Commonwealth Bank's annual results revealed a wealth of information confirming that the future of banking is digital, not in branches. editor-in-chief Angus Kidman highlighted 10 key statistics that prove our addiction to online banking.

Nearly every bank, credit union and building society across Australia offers an online banking platform, so it's important to compare features to determine which online banking portal offers the best benefits for you.

Australia hit "peak ATM" back in December 2008, with $14.8 billion worth of cash withdrawals. Since then, there's been a gradual monthly decline, and while we probably won't see physical currency disappear anytime soon, it's clear the direction we're heading.

Online banking is quick, easy and convenient, and with more than 12 million Aussies owning a smartphone, banking, finance and shopping online is more prevalent than ever.

You can compare a range of different mobile banking transaction accounts to decide which particular option suits your financial requirements and capabilities.

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