Coles in WA’s Kununurra has paused cash out services after bank closures increased demand


Bank closures in regional Australia have increased the demand for cash-out at supermarkets, but one supermarket giant is fighting back.

Coles in the regional Western Australian town of Kununurra has temporarily paused offering customers the option to withdraw cash from its supermarkets, after experiencing an increase in demand following the closure of several of the remote town’s bank branches.

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“While Coles usually offers the convenience of facilitating cash out for our customers, due to the increase in demand, we have made the decision to pause the option of cash-out at our Kununurra store,” a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

“We understand this is a challenging time for the community, however we are not operationally equipped to handle large volumes of cash.”

Previously, customers at the store could withdraw up to $300 at self-service check-outs, or up to $400 at staffed check-outs or service desks.

The move by Coles follows a decision by Woolworths late last year to reduce its cash-out limits across Australia.

News.com.au reported that in September, Woolworths reduced its cash withdrawal limit from $500 to $200 and in October it introduced the need to make a purchase in order to withdraw cash.

At the time a Woolworths spokesperson said the decision was “due to the lack of cash being used in transactions, with the majority of customers opting for card-only transactions,” but it’s understood an increase in the demand for cash from its supermarkets following reduced banking access may have also been behind the decision.

The decision by Coles in Kununurra follows the imminent closure of the town’s Bankwest branch and ATMs.

Bankwest recently announced it would close the town’s branch permanently on April 18, after it was ‘temporarily’ closed last August, following declining in-branch transactions.

Bankwest also said “ongoing resourcing challenges” had led to the decision.

Staffing branches in the community, which is in WA’s Kimberley Region close to the NT border, has also proved problematic for NAB and Westpac, with their Kununurra branches being closed since 2022 due to staffing challenges.

A Commonwealth Bank branch remains open in the town, but it has suffered at the hands of vandals multiple times, with the ATMs vandalised and out of action as recently as last weekend.

Locals are also able to bank at the town’s post office, except for ANZ customers as ANZ doesn’t have a deal in place with Australia Post for its Bank@Post services.

But Kununurra residents who need to withdraw large amounts of cash or access other in-branch banking services need to travel more than 800 kilometres to Darwin or more than 1,000 kilometres to Broome.

A rural WA Bankwest customer recently hit out at the bank, which plans to become digital-only, for refusing to allow a cash withdrawal despite the fact he and his wife drove 130km to access their nearest branch.

Bankwest is owned by the Commonwealth Bank and its CEO Matt Comyn told a Senate inquiry into regional branch closures that: “strategically, Bankwest is moving to predominantly and probably over time almost solely digital only”.

The Senate is due to hand down its report into regional bank closures in May.

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