Small town exits are a sad sign of the times

THERE’S an increasingly familiar tune being sung by the nation’s big banks.

Koroit's ANZ branch is closing after 15 years.

Koroit's ANZ branch is closing after 15 years.

It’s a country tune, not in terms of musical genre, but rather it’s a tune that is being heard almost exclusively in country areas.

It’s the Ballad of the Closing Bank Branch, and its a dirge that small towns are tired of hearing.

The latest cover version comes from the ANZ, who announced on Friday they were closing their branch in Koroit.

Similar refrains have been heard around the south-west, most recently in Terang, where the Commonwealth Bank branch will shut its doors on June 30, one year after the ANZ branch in the town closed.

The Koroit closure probably stings just that little bit more than Terang’s, which still has a NAB branch.

Koroit’s ANZ branch opened just 15 years ago, to much acclaim. 

At the time it was touted as “the first modern bank for the Koroit community” and heralded as a reflection of “ANZ’s commitment to offer local customers a broad range of options to meet all of their financial needs”.

During the branch’s life span, Koroit has flourished.

The population has grown by approximately 500 people since 2002, and it’s seen as a place likely to continue to expand.

Koroit is also potentially on the eve of its largest commercial development, with the Daly’s IGA supermarket revamp expected to get the tick of approval from Moyne Shire any day now.

Obviously the decision to the Koroit branch has been made by the ANZ for financial and commercial reasons.

As with the music industry, the retail sector, and news outlets, the internet has irrevocably altered banking, making bricks-and-mortar branches increasingly unnecessary as we direct debit and paywave our way into the future.

But not everyone is a savvy netbanker, especially in country areas.

The cashless economy hasn’t arrived yet, especially in country areas.

And the dawning of Australia’s new NBN-driven internet age isn’t appearing to be everything we hoped it would be, especially in country areas.

The loss of a physical bank presence is a blow to any regional community, but especially to a growing and thriving community like Koroit.