Changes to Banking Services

The way we’re banking is changing. That’s mostly because banks are phasing out cheques and closing some branches. The banks are encouraging us to bank online or use their mobile phone banking apps. That’s not great news for some of us who cannot, or prefer not to, change the way we’ve always done things. The good news is that there are still other ways of banking that don’t involve computers or mobile phones.

Banking options for those who can’t bank online

Customers who prefer not to use digital banking, or who cannot, can still:

  • Phone their bank seven days a week to speak to someone. In most cases automated telephone banking is also available.
  • Use ATMs for cash withdrawals, deposits (smart ATMs only) and other account transactions.
  • Use branches for most transactions.
  • Use direct debit authorities to allow businesses you pay regularly to withdraw what you owe them from your account. Direct debits provide a useful alternative to cheques for regular payments such as monthly bills. They only need to be set up once and the bill payee can help you with that. Payments are made subject to available funds on the due date, so you never have to miss a payment.
  • Set up automatic payments for regular fixed-amount payments, for example donations to charities. Your bank can help you set up automatic payments.

How banks are helping older customers

Most banks have a priority phone service for older customers. Some have a dedicated phone number for older customers, and others automatically direct your call to the priority service when you call their main 0800 number. See the banks’ phone numbers below.

Banks offer a range of information and education services for customers who would like to learn about banking online and on mobile phones.

Banks are also proactively contacting customers who regularly use cheques to talk to them about other ways to make payments. When branches close, banks will contact customers who use the branch regularly to discuss other options with them.

Why cheques are being phased out

Fewer than one per cent of bank customers today regularly use cheques. Many merchants and government agencies no longer accept cheques. For example, you cannot generally buy groceries or petrol with a cheque, or pay a tax bill for that matter.

The move to digital payments is driven by customers who prefer the convenience and safety of online payments, direct debits, and automatic payments.

Branch closures

Banks are closing some branches. That’s because customers prefer other ways of banking and some branches are no longer sustainable. In some cases there may be fewer than ten customers a day in those branches.

Switching banks is easy

If you’re not happy with your bank it’s easy to switch to another bank. Your new bank can make all the arrangements within five working days. You don’t even need to talk to your old bank. Your new bank will transfer your money to your new accounts. Importantly, they’ll also make sure that any recurring payments (e.g. direct debits, automatic payments, and bill payments) are linked to your new accounts, so you won’t miss any payments. You only need to sign one form to authorise everything.

Talk to Age Concern or your bank

If you have any questions about your banking options, your bank will be happy to talk through your options. Alternatively, please contact your local Age Concern who has some practical information about the services your bank provides. You can reach Age Concern Wellington Region on 04 499 6648.

Bank phone numbers

ANZ  0800 269 296

ASB  0800 272 119

BNZ  0800 275 269

Kiwibank  0800 487 888

TSB  0800 872 226

Westpac  0800 400 600


For more detailed information, please click here…


This information is believed to be accurate in June 2021. Thank you to the New Zealand Bankers’ Association for this useful information.

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