A disagreement between Australia Post and ANZ Bank over higher fees will see about 900 small businesses lose access to banking services at post offices in three months.
ANZ customers will no longer be able to access banking services at post offices from January 2019 after Australia Post moved to terminate its agreement with the bank on Monday.
The government-owned postie wants the banks to pay an extra $22 million in fees annually for post office banking services in a bid to make the loss-making service sustainable.
It intends to use the extra money to improve its service and deliver a windfall to licensed post office partners.
Westpac, NAB and the Commonwealth Bank have already agreed to the increase, which will see them pay higher fees on withdrawals, deposits and other bank services through Australia Post stores.
Both Australia Post and ANZ Bank said they were “disappointed” in the decision of one another, with Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate saying the bank would be offered a new deal soon.
“We will offer ANZ a new contract to ensure their customers are still able to access the benefit of our services and they are not disadvantaged whilst ANZ continues to develop its own strategic options,” Holgate said in a statement.
Holgate said Australia Post’s franchise partners, licensed post offices, were unable to afford the current system, which is running at a loss.
The new agreements will deliver a windfall to its franchise partners, including about 50% more in base transaction payments and a 25% lift in annual minimum payments.
That comes as good news to Gail Kelley, the operator of a licensed post office in Byrock, regional NSW, who says every cent counts during the drought.
“Because the banks are closing down their branches I get quite a few pensioners that come in and sort out their banking,” she tells SmartCompany.
The financials of offering the banking services are currently “difficult”, she says.
“We’re in a drought, so every cent we get we’re quite happy for.”
Kelley says banking is a vital service for some of her customers, as the nearest bank branches are 100 kilometres away.
The new bank contracts will have different community representation fees, which are paid annually, as well as revised transaction costs.
ANZ issued a statement on Monday, conceding that hundreds of its small business customers would be affected by the termination.
“We have been committed to fair and proportionate compensation for the service and will continue discussions with the hope of resolving the matter quickly,” ANZ’s retail distribution network general manager Paul Presland said in a statement.
“At this stage we have unfortunately been unable to come to a new agreement that is reasonable for both organisations.”
Presland said ANZ Bank is “assessing options” for affected customers.
The body representing post offices, the Post Office Agents Association (POAAL), welcomed the new contracts in a statement released on Monday evening.
“The Licensees who are doing the hard work for Australia Post and the banks deserve to be compensated more,” said POAAL director Bob Chizzoniti.
“We look forward to seeing this new funding flow through to the small business owners who operate Australia Post’s LPO network.”
POAAL urged ANZ to join the new scheme.