• Dale Webster

NAB downgrades branches to cashless services

The definition of what makes a bank a bank has never been more important as NAB starts to quietly downgrade branches to cashless services.

A screenshot from NAB's branch list on its website.

Three banks in regional Australia have been affected by the move – two in Geelong and one at Broadbeach on the Queensland Gold Coast – and at least 12 metropolitan sites in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.


The change means these locations no longer meet the definition of a branch set out by the federal government authority that regulates the banking industry, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).


Despite this the outlets are still being listed as branches on NAB’s website but do state they are “digital self-serve and cashless” when searched for.


As part of its regulatory role, APRA publishes an annual authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) points of presence database that classifies institutions into three service levels: branches, other face-to-face and ATMs.


According to APRA, to be classified as a branch the “point of presence” must provide face-to-face service, accept cash and other deposits (including business deposits) and provide change.


The points of presence data is supplied by the banks already classified but it is not known yet whether NAB has reclassified its now cashless sites in information provided to the regulator.


The sites are still listed as branches in the current points of presence data, published in October 2021.


NAB’s retail executive for regional Victoria and Tasmania, Mil Kairouz, said the bank was investing in “smaller format branches” for the convenience of customers.


He said customers had access to smart ATMs at these sites.


"In these branches customers will benefit from more meetings spaces with video conferencing facilities and a digital bar so we can provide more guidance on the ways to do everyday banking," he said.


The move comes at a time when there is more cash in Australia than at any time in our history.


According to the Reserve Bank, there were 1.9 billion banknotes in circulation, worth $95.5 billion, at the end of June 2021. Even its value as a percentage of GDP growth is at an all-time high of 4.9 per cent.