CBA has extended its promise to keep banking services and employment provided by its regional branches in Australia open until at least the end of 2026, the bank said in a statement.

Angus Sullivan, CBA’s Retail Banking Services Group executive, said: “We recognise the way people are banking is changing, with more customers adopting the benefits offered by digital and phone-based services.

“Through this time of change, we want to support customers in regional areas who prefer banking in branch, and so we will maintain our existing face-to-face services in these communities”, Sullivan continued. “Today’s announcement ensures CBA continues to offer the largest branch network in Australia, providing customers across the country with a wide range of flexible banking options and locations.”

CBA and the challenge to keep branches open

CBA is not the only one struggling to keep its in-person branches open. In June this year, Nationwide renewed its promise to keep its branches open until at least 2026, bucking the trend of UK financial institutions to shrink their branch network.

According to its CEO Debbie Crosbie, the decision to move in the opposite direction comes “because our customers value face-to-face contact, and we’re owned by them, we act in their interests.”

Overall, banking clients prefer in-person services for dealing with their money and bank accounts. According to GlobalData’s 2022 Financial Services Consumer Survey, 58% of consumers in the US agreed with the statement, “I do not want to use a bank that has no branches.” Only 20% of consumers disagreed.

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Of the 58% who strongly preferred branch access, 72% reported using a branch at least once a month. By comparison, among the 20% that disagreed with the statement, monthly usage dropped to 44%. Overall, 42% of US consumers both make regular use of their bank’s branch network and are discomforted by the idea of a bank being unable to offer access to such a network.

In February 2023, CBA was the first bank to commit to keeping regional branches open for the rest of the year.

“We look forward to working closely with regional communities over the next three years to refine how we better support and familiarise them with all the CBA banking services available”, Sullivan said.