'This town is possibly dying': Ranfurly reeling from shock its only bank is closing

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One News

The small Otago settlement of Ranfurly is reeling from the news that it's losing its only bank.

Closure of Westpac in rural Otago 'sends a signal this town is possibly dying'
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There are fears Ranfurly's visiting tourists could be badly affected, while there are also worries for local businesses.
There are fears Ranfurly's visiting tourists could be badly affected, while there are also worries for local businesses.
Source: ONE News

It's among 19 Westpac branches around New Zealand which Westpac yesterday confirmed it's shutting down.

"It's a bit of a shame for a small community. It's a bit of a shock," said one local in Ranfurly, just over 100 kilometres from Dunedin.

The town's businesses are now needing new ways of managing cash-flow, with Westpac closing.

"My feeling is they've missed an opportunity. But there's been lots of communication as to what we can do going forward so at least they haven't, I guess abandoned the town altogether," said Michelle Grundy of the Four Square in Maniototo.

There are fears Ranfurly's visiting tourists could be badly affected by the closure, while there are also worries for local businesses.

"The risk of people taking their business away and the banks closing is that they take their business away and do it on a day trip to Alexandra or Dunedin. So the flow-on effect to businesses can be quite significant," said Stu Duncan of the Central Otago District Council.

Westpac bank

Source: ONE News

Westpac declined an invitation to talk to ONE News but did provide a statement outlining planned ways to help isolated customers.

Some of the ideas put forward for Ranfurly are an automatic teller machine, an intention to create a "deposit solution" and the possibility of an iPad or computer being made available at a public facility.

ANZ is closing its Ngaruawahia branch and is looking to close six more, while Kiwibank got rid of six branches this year and the other major banks are cutting offices.

A banking commentator, Dr Bodo Lang of Auckland University, believes the bank closures paint a concerning picture for small towns.

"If the last bank branch closes, that really sends a signal to the whole town that this town is possibly dying. And I think that's a very sad thing to see," Dr Lang said.

Westpac's branches will close in early November.

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