Rush for online banking during pandemic
Exclusive: Hundreds of thousands of Australians have rushed to sign up to online and phone banking services during the COVID-19 pandemic, new figures show.
Data from the big four banks found huge spikes in sign ups since March of people transacting via online channels.
The nation's biggest bank, the Commonwealth Bank, has had more than 81,000 sign ups in March alone to both Netbank and phone app services.
The other big banks have also reported huge spikes since the coronavirus pandemic struck including National Australia Bank who has reported 58,000 new digital users in March and April.
Also more than 2700 passbook customers applied for their first debit card during this time -
of these 80 per cent are over the age of 75.
NAB's general manager of consumer everyday banking Simone Van Veen said there are many customers, particularly those in the older age groups, engaging with online channels for the first time.
"Digital banking has played a critical role in supporting our customers with their banking needs through the COVID-19 crisis," she said.
"There are many customers, particularly some older customers, who have perhaps never considered banking online in the past, but we are seeing them pick it up very quickly and make the most of being able to bank online."
Westpac has reported a climb of more than 27,000 new to digital customers joining online banking services including via or computer or the bank's app.
ANZ figures shows in March and April 74,900 customers signed up to the ANZ app and an additional 48,300 new registrations were made with internet banking.
Seniors Australia's chief advocate Ian Henschke said many older Australians had adapted to using online banking during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he said there was still 2.5 million Australians who were not active online.
"To be online you need a computer or a mobile phone and that requires signing up to an internet provider and could cost at least $1000 a year," Mr Henscke said.
"If you are a low-income earner or a pensioner $1000 a year is a fair chunk of your income."
Mr Henscke said many people who weren't tech-savvy needed a family member or friend to help set them up so they could get connected.
"There will be people who live alone and don't have a family member to take them through how to do it and get them online," he said.
"There will always be a need for bricks and mortar banks."
Mr Henscke said many Australians still relied on bank branches or Australia Post outlets to complete their banking and pay their bills.
Originally published as Rush for online banking during pandemic