ANZ has been accused of disadvantaging customers and urged to put “people before profit” after it failed to renew a contract which could leave its customers with nowhere to bank.
Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac have all agreed to stump up 2 million each to continue a partnership with Australia Post that effectively turns post offices into mini bank branches after it said it was losing money on every financial transaction it performed.
A post office manager has told news.com.au that the postal network was increasingly picking up the slack of providing day to day financial services as banks closed branches, and that service came at a cost.
ANZ boss Shayne Elliot has conceded the bank is paying too little for the services through post offices but said 2 million is too big a price.
“We just want a fair deal. We will happily pay more. A lot more,” Mr Elliot said.
ANZ made a profit of .9 billion in the last financial year.
The move will see ANZ pull out of [email protected] system in three months’ time. The service allows customers, particularly in rural areas, to make deposits and withdrawals, conduct business transactions and pay bills at the post office.
The bank told Australia Post only a “relatively small number of customers” used post offices.
But Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra that she wanted ANZ to reconsider.
“ANZ, we urge you to consider your customers, the services they need in communities, before you consider your profits and what you think they are compared to other banks,” Ms Holgate told the hearing on Tuesday.
Australia Post has pushed the banks to sign up to a new partnership agreement with the millions it receives to be invested in improvements to the post office network.
The deal also involves revised charges for the banks for each transaction their customers conduct through Australia Post.
The government owned organisation said it can no longer subsidise such services, having previously lost money by providing them on the banks’ behalf.
A local post office manager in New South Wales, who wished to remain anonymous, said it was essential for ANZ to remain on board.
“As a licensed post office we need to be paid adequately for the work we continue to take on as they continue to close branches,” he said.
“I don’t know the financial details. All I know is that if ANZ banking is not available in rural areas at post offices then a lot of people will be disadvantaged.”
He said Australia Post and ANZ needed to end the impasse with a “sense of urgency”.
ANZ’s Mr Elliot said the current deal was unfair as the bank has fewer customers using Australia Post than its competitors, meaning the agreement’s fixed costs would hit ANZ harder.
“We can’t pay multiple times per transaction what our competitors pay,” he said.
But Ms Holgate said claims ANZ’s transactions will be multiple times larger than its competitors are “absolutely not true”.
“All four banks have had transparent, fair and equal treatment,” she said.
Both parties remain open to discussions, but Ms Holgate said Australia Post won’t be cutting a deal with the bank.
News.com.au contacted ANZ. They pointed to comments they made on October 15 when they signalled their withdrawal from post offices.
Manager of the ANZ retail bank Paul Presland said at the time: “We have been committed to fair and proportionate compensation for the service and will continue discussions with the hope of resolving the matter quickly.
“At this stage we have unfortunately been unable to come to a new agreement that is reasonable for both organisations.”