In 2018, Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, Stoke resident Daphne Crampton, Greypower president Christine Tuffnell and Nelson MP Nick Smith organising a petition opposing the closure of Stoke's Kiwibank. Two years on they are still waiting for a result. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Still waiting for pilot banking hub for Stoke

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At 95-years-old, Stoke resident Daphne Crampton is tired of waiting for a promised banking hub to materialise in her suburb.

Last October, after the closure of the Stoke Kiwibank, the six major banks in New Zealand promised to create a hub consisting of a “Smart ATM”, a support person and online support.

It was meant to be open earlier this year, but Daphne isn’t holding her breath.

“You can delay these things and delay these things. It’s like a landlord that says they will get round to fixing something and they never do.”

Daphne, a resident at Whareama retirement village, says there are many older people who struggle with the current set up, which only includes ATMs.

She says people need in person support to help them.

“It might be convenient for the banks, but it isn’t convenient for the customer.”

Stoke has a population of 16,000 with 4,500 older New Zealanders, one of the highest proportions of seniors of anywhere in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Bankers Association advised Nelson MP Nick Smith and Grey Power Nelson that the six banks, ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Kiwibank, TSB and Westpac remain committed to the Regional Banking Hub pilot but the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown delayed the new service until November.

However, this timeline is “subject to review”.

The association advised it is a pilot on a new type of banking service that needs to be trialled during a period as normal as possible.

Christine Tuffnell President of Grey Power Nelson says the delay is disappointing for seniors as it will have been two years by November this year from when Kiwibank closed.

“The problem of accessible banking services has been exacerbated during lockdown and by the recent decisions to no longer accept cheques. We accept some delay was inevitable from the Covid-19 emergency. It is better late than never, but we want to encourage the banks to move as quickly as possible.”

Nick says the new banking hub is not just important for seniors but for Stoke businesses who have lost customers since the bank closure.

“These retailers have taken an additional hit with the Covid-19 lockdown. The new banking hub will help Stoke businesses and I have written to Ministers and the Banks advocating for the November date to be brought forward to help with the post Covid-19 recovery.”

Meanwhile, Daphne says she will wait but won’t expect anything soon.