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Banks change could cut off thousands of Australians from cash

National Australia Bank has dramatically slashed opening hours at 114 of its smaller regional branches after a severe decline in customer numbers during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Dozens of NAB branches in rural New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia will close their doors at 12.30pm instead of between 1.30-5pm. 

Thirty-eight locations in NSW, 28 in Victoria, 25 in Queensland, 19 in WA and four in SA will be impacted, leaving customers unable to bank after lunchtime.

Some branches will be open for just three hours a day, with customers told to use internet banking instead.

NAB’s group executive of personal banking Rachel Slade said the bank is adjusting its opening hours as many customers stop going into branches due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

‘Our branches continue to be a really important part of many local communities especially for local businesses. Nobody is losing their jobs as a result of these reduced hours,’ she told the Daily Telegraph. 

The changes will come into effect from Monday, August 17.

Instead of working face-to-face, staff at the affected branches will be at NAB’s call centre or online chat service. 

Ms Slade said NAB was ‘hoping to keep regional and rural branches open until at least January next year’.  

But National Seniors Australia’s chief advocate Ian Henschke said 2.5 million Australians don’t have access to the internet and need to go into branches. 

‘This is a compromise which is far better than the alternative which is where we have seen banks shutting down branches and providing no service to the community,’ he said.

‘There’s been some cases where older people have had to travel one hour each way to do their banking.’ 

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