End to cheques a worry for Coromandel seniors
Kiwibank’s decision to go ‘cheque-free’ in nine months will pose problems for many Coromandel seniors says MP for Coromandel Scott Simpson.
“This decision will impact on those people who still use cheques or find them more convenient than online banking.”
Kiwibank has announced it will go cheque-free from February 28 2020.
Over the nine-month transition period, the New Zealand-owned bank has committed to supporting impacted customers as they move to faster, safer, and cheaper payment options.
“It’s true most people don’t use cheques these days but in an area like the Coromandel there are still a surprisingly large number who do,” says Scott.
“I’m always amazed how many mostly seniors tell me they don’t use computers, don’t have the internet and don’t use smart phones. What’s more they are usually very adamant they don’t want to make change.”
Kiwibank CEO Steve Jurkovich acknowledges that stopping the cheque service wasn’t an easy decision to make.
“However, for the past five years, the use of cheques has been steadily declining,” says Steve.
“With less than one percent of Kiwibank payments now made by cheque, we’ve come to a tipping point. We’ve chosen not to invest in a shrinking service and outdated technology, instead we’re moving forward and equipping customers for a world that is increasingly digital.”
Last month Kiwibank partnered with Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa and is supporting Stepping UP, an initiative that provides free, community-based training that works to build digital skills and knowledge in communities.
“Online tools can offer a more convenient and cheaper customer experience, but there can be barriers to usage. This new partnership is about making sure all Kiwis have the same opportunity to build their online skills, feel more included and gain confidence. It will also mean they have access to cheaper and faster financial products and be confident they are doing so securely,” says Steve.
Scott says that at the last election, Coromandel had the largest number of plus 65 year old voters enrolled of any electorate in New Zealand.
“So the impact on people here will be greater than in other parts of the country,” says Scott.
“I would have preferred Kiwibank just let those who wanted to keep using cheques do so even if they had to pay a higher fee.”
Kiwibank has worked with Stepping UP to design and develop online banking training. The free banking workshops will be piloted in several regions before going nationwide through Stepping UP’s 120 community partners. Training venues include public libraries, schools, and community centres around the country.
“Not everybody has or wants access to internet banking,” says Scott. “In some parts of the Coromandel there is no reliable internet coverage, so it’s not much use Kiwibank offering training on how to do online banking if there is no ‘online’.”
Customers who have used the cheque product over the past year will be receiving personal letters advising them of the change. Kiwibank will also work with business customers and large cheque issuers, including government departments, through the nine-month transition period.
How the phasing out of cheques will work:
• After 30 September 2019 Kiwibank won’t issue cheque or deposit books.
• After 28 February 2020 cheque deposits will not be accepted into a Kiwibank customer account; other banks may stop accepting Kiwibank cheques.
• After 28 February 2020 Kiwibank will stop providing Bank Cheques.
For more information on the change customers can visit: https://www.kiwibank.co.nz/cheques.
“I am worried that Kiwibank’s decision will lead to other banks following suit,” says Scott.
“What it will mean for some people is that they will revert to cash and that has security and safety issues for seniors as well.”