Wingham is losing another bank.
The National Australia Bank in Wingham will be closing its doors for good on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.
The bank has had a presence in Wingham for 137 years – since September 6, 1880. It was initially known as the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd until it merged with the National Bank of Australasia in 1982 to form the National Australia Bank.
It has stood in its current home for 135 of those years. It was the first, and for some time, the only bank in Wingham.
The closure follows other NAB rural branch closures throughout Australia, and the the loss of all rural St George Bragencies and Westpac sub-branches, including those in Wingham.
The NAB cited the closure of the branch as being a “response to the changing ways customers are banking with us.”
“We are seeing fewer people using branches like they used to with more than 90 per cent of our customer interactions through digital channels,” a NAB spokesperson said in an emailed response to the Wingham Chronicle’s queries.
“The majority of Wingham customers visit the branch just once a year or less, and 83 per cent of customers have used other branches in the past 12 months,” the email said.
The response is a standard reply given for inquiries about NAB branch closures all over Australia.
Wingham tradesman, Glen Pope is so riled up about news of the closure he tried calling John Laws to vent his frustration.
Glen, who has been a NAB customer for around 25 years, said he saw the writing on the wall when the branch cut it’s opening hours to three days a week in November 2015. He called it a ‘hillbilly set-up’.
“I’m disappointed it’ll no longer be there. It’s been there as long as I can remember,” Glen said. “I’m looking at changing banks now.”
Glen is clearly in what the bank considers a minority, as he visits the branch often.
“I’ve probably gone there three times in the last month,” Glen said. “But I’ve had to go to Taree at times because the Wingham one wasn’t open!”
Tradespeople and other business people, and the elderly, will be the most disadvantaged by the closure.
They assume everyone uses a computer. A lot of old people with the NAB – it will mean a half hour round trip for them to go to Taree.
“They assume everyone uses a computer. A lot of old people with the NAB – it will mean a half hour round trip for them to go to Taree,” Glen said.
Not just the elderly – businesses who bank with the NAB will now be forced to take time out of their working day to travel to Taree to do their banking, even just to get change, or change banks.
“The Commonwealth and the [Holiday Coast] Credit Union don’t let you get change unless you have an account with them,” Suzie Bee Hair Designers salon owner, Paula Marron said. She does both her personal and her business banking at the Wingham branch.
“They’re forcing me to find another bank. I have no other choice.
“It’s really disappointing. We lost the Westpac and St George agencies – why is Wingham becoming one of those towns that’s going to have nothing?” Paul said.
They’re forcing me to find another bank. I have no other choice.
Paula and Glen are both not happy that they found out the news of the closure “by accident”.
“We have contacted customers to let them know they can bank with us at the Taree branch and also via the NAB mobile app, internet or telephone,Customers can also continue to withdraw and deposit cash, pay bills and check their account balance at any Australia Post outlet with Bank@Post such as the Wingham Post Shop,” said the NAB spokesperson.
While NAB says it has contacted customers, at the time both Paula and Glen say they had not been contacted at all. They heard through rumour.