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Kiwibank leads big banks back to local services

Hon Jim Anderton

Member of Parliament for Wigram
Progressive Leader

3 December 2009
Media Statement

Kiwibank leads big banks back to local services

Westpac’s decision to return to boutique style branches in small communities so they can get closer to where customers live, demonstrates the impact Kiwibank has had on banking in New Zealand.

Jim Anderton was instrumental in setting up Kiwibank under a coalition agreement with Labour in 2001, at a time when the big Australian owned banks were abandoning rural and provincial New Zealand as well as local urban communities.

Westpac chief executive George Frazis now says that it was a mistake for his bank to abandon local branches in the 1990s.
Kiwibank reversed this trend by setting up regional branches and bank outlets so that local customers had access to bank services where ever they lived.

Westpac now plans to return to a local branch system. This is a welcome, if belated move from a bank customers viewpoint.

Today, Kiwibank has by far the biggest network of any bank in New Zealand, with more than three hundred branches (at least one hundred more than any other bank) and 650,000 customers. It operates in nearly forty communities where it is the only bank service available.

“We knew at the time that it was not only the right thing to do, but that it made business sense to keep banking services close to where people live,” says MP for Wigram and Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton.

“It’s taken Westpac more than ten years to realise this, but they deserve credit for reversing the failed policies of the 1990s, and returning to local banking.”

“It’s a shame that given this re-engagement with the public of New Zealand, Westpac didn’t show up at the Parliamentary Banking Inquiry recently. We would have welcomed their views. Kiwibank was the only bank that fronted.”

“It’s only a matter of time now before the other banks follow Kiwibank and return to local banking,” says Jim Anderton.


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