COVID-19 has changed the way Australians do a lot of everyday things, but when it comes to your banking, it’s crucial to know how visiting branches may be impacted.
You can still visit bank branches during COVID-19, as distancing regulations have not yet closed all branch doors. However, many banks have had to temporarily close branches in some locations, as well as greatly reduce store hours.
And for those branches still open, you may be wondering what practices or technologies, if any, have been implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Are the big four banks’ branches still open?
If you bank with one of the big four in Australia, here is what you need to know about whether branches are open and how hours may have changed:
|Bank||Are branches open?|
|Commonwealth Bank||Yes, with some locations temporarily closed. Branches now close 4pm Monday – Friday, not open Saturdays and Sundays.|
|Westpac||Yes, with some locations temporarily closed.|
|ANZ||Yes, with some locations temporarily closed. Some branches now close at 12pm Monday – Friday, not open Saturdays and Sundays.|
|NAB||Yes, with some locations temporarily closed. Some branches now close at 4pm Monday – Thursday, and 5pm on Fridays. Branches are not open Saturdays and Sundays.|
A Westpac spokesperson told RateCity that the bank had “closed a number of branches where we are seeing significantly less foot traffic, such as some of our CBD locations.”
“We are also taking a range of precautions at our sites to keep our people and customers safe in our branches, including physical safety barriers, distancing signage, hand sanitiser, alcoholic wipes and maximum occupancy limits,” the spokesperson said.
“In areas where masks are mandatory, such as metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, our employees wear masks at work, including in branches, as well as to commute to and from work.”
A Commonwealth Bank (CBA) contact advised RateCity that not only was the big four bank providing hand sanitiser for staff and customers in branches, but also installing plastic Perspex screens at teller windows, front counters, and in branch offices, to create safe barriers between staff and customers.
Masks are also available for all CBA branch staff across Australia, with face shields available for concierges.
Further, processes have been developed to help customers who are unable to come into branches perform their services remotely, on their behalf.
COVID-19 safe technology for branches
If you’re still visiting a branch and/or withdrawing cash, you may be wondering what practices or technologies may be in place to make your visit safer.
In general, banks are asking customers to avoid vising if:
- You are experiencing flu-like symptoms;
- You have travelled internationally within the past 14 days
- You live with someone who has travelled internationally within the past 14 days;
- You have travelled interstate within the past 14 days; or
- You have come into contact or live with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
The use of hand sanitiser upon entering branches is also heavily encouraged.
What COVID-19 safe technology is available:
- Temperature checks
Some branches are implementing temperature checks for employees. These are typically done using thermal scanners. While thermal scanners cannot detect if an individual has COVID-19, it can detect if they have a fever, a common symptom of this illness.
A Westpac spokesperson told RateCity that “in some of our corporate sites and selected branches, temperature checks for employees are also in place.” This is good news for those looking to continue banking in person, as it lessens the risk of the customer contracting COVID-19.
- Contactless ATM withdrawal
Banks like Westpac, St. George, ANZ and CommBank have had contactless ATM withdrawal available for some time now.
Depending on the bank, this may work by having your bank send you a unique code that is accessed through your mobile app for that ATM. You can then select how much cash you’d like to withdraw within the app.
You may also be able to use your digital wallet to access cash at an ATM, reducing some of the physical contact you may make. To do this you’d need to enable your digital wallet, tap your device at the ATM contactless symbol, enter your pin and access your cash.
- Digital wallets
Speaking of digital wallets, not only can these handy mobile apps assist in withdrawing cash from ATMs, but also for contactless debit or credit card payments. Simply and securely store your credit card details via your mobile phone through Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, and then use your phone as you would a debit or credit card.
If you’re also making the move to more online-based shopping, they may be useful in this space. Your digital wallet will autofill your credit card details at checkout, offering you greater convenience and simplifying the way you shop.
Making the switch to online banking
Banks like Westpac have been encouraging their customers to make the switch to mobile banking throughout 2020. They’ve also created helpful video guides to make the transition easier for customers.
Using an online banking platform or mobile app is significantly easier and more convenient than visiting a branch. Furthermore, it reduces the burden on customer service members who have been spread thin across the branches still left open.
Most banks will offer assistance like the above to ease the switch to online or mobile banking. If you’re considering using this technology, or there are no more branches open near you, it may be worth reaching out to your bank’s customer service team for assistance in setting this up.
What other support is available from banks?
Australian banks have been understanding in these uncertain times, offering hardship relief and support for customers struggling to meet loan repayments and pay their credit card bills.
If COVID-19 has significantly impacted your finances and you’ve not yet reached out to your bank, or if you’re unaware what relief may be available, RateCity has created a COVID-19 bank support and lender relief guide. Simply locate your bank/lender, see what relief may be available and get in contact with them as soon as possible.