National Australia Bank limits transactions customers can make at its branches

National Australia Bank is phasing out over-the-counter payments for credit cards as part of a nationwide plan to move banking online and reduce its branch network, raising concerns that vulnerable customers are at greater risk to scams.

In December, NAB launched a pilot of the new policy, which “encourages” customers to pay for their credit cards using online banking, ATMs or post offices. The policy has been piloted in branches with the highest number of customers making payments at the counter, with plans to roll out the policy nationwide from February.

NAB limits over-the-counter payments at branches. Credit:

It comes as major banks close branches across the country, a process accelerated by the pandemic as more and more customers turn to online banking. However, the digitization of banking services has been criticized by consumer advocates for leaving regional communities behind and vulnerable customers more exposed to scams.

Internal training documents, obtained by age and Sydney Morning Herald, show that NAB staff received a series of expected questions from customers about the new policy, including “What happens if a customer gets upset and threatens to pull their business from NAB?” and “What if the customer doesn’t have internet at home or a smartphone?”

NAB staff were asked to explain that the new policy is in the interests of customers, as it allows them to “discover the benefits of faster, simpler, more convenient and safer options”.

The documents show NAB was prepared to be accused of neglecting vulnerable customers, including elderly and non-English speaking people, and encouraged staff to “use their discretion as to the most appropriate way” to support the customer.

Other training materials indicate that the most common criticisms of online banking include a lack of trust in internet banking and frequent service interruptions. In response, NAB asked staff to “give customers time to express intent and demonstrate active listening skills” and to use “genuine empathy” to demonstrate “that we understand the point of view of customers.” clients”.

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