Narooma Chamber of Commerce president Niels Bendixsen has described news that the NAB is closing its Narooma Branch as “extremely disappointing”.
Mr Bendixsen said the news hits particularly hard considering the ANZ closed its branch in August last year, and encouraged people to “vote with their feet”.
“Go and support the local, customer owned banking institutions, because it seems like the big banks aren’t in it for small, rural areas,” he said.
”Narooma isn’t the only place this is happening, and we’ll see more of it, but it’s really disappointing for Narooma to have yet another business that’s not operating in town.”
Mr Bendixsen said there is “still room for face-to-face banking”, and believes the NAB hasn’t considered all of its clients in this decision.
“Not everyone wants to do everything online all the time,” he said. “There’s still businesses that require cash, and there is still such a thing as customer service.
“People want advice, they want to meet someone face-to-face to help them make their decisions.
“We do things a little bit differently in the country, and part of that engagement with the community is going to your local shops, bank, or cafe.
“Perhaps in the city you avoid that because of traffic or whatnot, but in the country, particularly for older people, it’s one of the things they like to do.”
NAB has encouraged customers to do their banking at branches in Batemans Bay and Bega, but Mr Bendixsen said that’s not a feasible solution.
“There’s a lot of things that don’t work with that,” he said. “It’s no skin off my nose to drive up to the Bay, but for others it’s a big deal.
“In the city, they just go ‘there’s a branch nearby’. It’s not like there’s a branch a couple of suburbs away in the country, and I think they sometimes forget that.”
The Chamber of Commerce will now look to put steps in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again in the future.
“I’ve heard a couple of local business providers will lobby council or NAB to try and make sure this doesn’t keep happening,” Mr Bendixsen said.
“We can certainly band together, and it’s something I’ll talk about with other chambers in the Eurobodalla Shire. Perhaps making a call to voice our concerns will make a difference.”
Mr Bendixsen said the closure was another mark on the midtown area of Narooma.
“I’m disappointed there will be another empty building in midtown,” he said. “The lack of trade and movement in our town is another thing we need to be concerned about.”