Has the impact on the customer been sufficiently considered?

  • 25 July 2019

Q: As is evident from [my] previous email I am extremely concerned that the impact on the customer has not been sufficiently considered and although I realise this is not your issue I would like to briefly reiterate my concerns.

  1. Consultation
    a.  Had the bank obtained better insight into cheque using customers it would have uncovered much richer information including the discovery of a largely ‘hidden’ and significant number of people who spend the majority of their time confined to their homes. They can not get out to teas, meet ups or mobile buses. This is the demographic for whom lack of suitable transport is a major issue.
    b.  Had the bank then used that information to inform their decision, the response would have been different. It feels like processes are only just beginning to be developed, and only now because of the indignation of the those effected and the willingness of the group that met last Tuesday, to help craft a solution. It should not have been these groups responsibility. It has come at considerable cost to them.
    c.  Once a better understanding of cheque users was obtained, the major banks could have got together to discuss diminishing cheque use and to use their wealth of knowledge to develop alternatives that would have been more acceptable to this sector.
  2. The effect on business and charities who bank with Kiwibank.
    a.  As a business which carefully selected Kiwibank (we use New Zealand services etc. wherever possible) we feel the bank has moved away from its raison d'etre and is focused principally on growing the financial arm of the businesses. We are well aware of such imperatives and are conscious that your shareholders expect a good ROI. This was not however the primary basis for the formation of Kiwibank as is clearly shown in Kiwibank's headers on the website “We're a bank made for New Zealanders, by New Zealanders. Helping Kiwis achieve financial independence is what we do.”
    b.  It is apparent that the effect on the charities sector has not been fully appreciated.

The above is not in any way directed to you personally. I do however hope it gives you a better understanding of our concerns, particularly for our client group of older people and that in so doing you are better able to convey them to decision makers.


A: Further to our conversation today, thank you for attending the FINZ working group and for following up with me regarding the concerns that you have shared on behalf of [your organisation].

As we have previously addressed in our communications and engagements with customers, Kiwibank was unable to consult externally regarding our decision to go cheque-free.   Nor could we have collaborated with other banks, as you have suggested, due to competition law and the commercial sensitivity of this decision.

Our Board Chair Susan Macken has previously advised in her letter to you [linked] that since our announcement, we have directly contacted our cheque using customers over the age of 65.  Of those contacted, over half have already said they are open to change.  They’ve told us they are interested in other ways of making payments, including telephone banking, and are prepared to move to options that include learning safe, digital banking skills. 

To help those who are interested in learning about online banking options, we have partnered with Stepping UP who provide a free Digital Banking course in libraries and community centres across the country.  Stepping UP also have a mobile learning centre “DORA” who will be traveling the country offering the same training.  

As discussed, it would be great if you could attend a Stepping UP Digital Banking course and we would be grateful to hear if you have any feedback or suggestions from this training.  Upcoming courses can be found here.  Likewise, I would encourage you to contact your local Kiwibank branch and see what our Tech Teas offer customers, including information about non-digital alternatives like Telephone Banking.  A Tech Tea may be easier for you to get to at this time. Recently, through a Tech Tea, we helped an 88 year old foundation customer, who is not going to use the internet, to change their charity payments from cheque to credit card.  A great example of how there are alternatives for everyone.  We have numerous branches offering Tech Teas in the Canterbury area and they are listed on our website here.

Lastly, I am happy to meet with you to look at the statistics that you have, regarding those who are confined to their homes and are unable to access digital options, as we want to support all our customers to find alternative payment options that will suit them and their needs. 

Letter mentioned above

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