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20 March 2023

The Hon Kristy McBain MP
Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories
Federal Member for Eden-Monaro


New research commissioned by the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) shows customer-owned institutions are sticking around and increasing their footprint in our regional communities including in Eden-Monaro, as big banks continue to shut up shop.


The COBA report, released at a regional banking roundtable in Merimbula on Friday 17 March, found that customer-owned banks are bucking the trend because they:

  • Are considered the primary financial institution of more than 10 per cent of the adult population, well above their 3.5 per cent share of overall market assets,
  • Collectively contribute $2 billion to the country’s GDP,
  • Provide unparalleled demand for skilled employees in regional locations, and
  • Actively contribute to sector-based and geographic communities through generous donations to charitable organisations and community sponsorships.


There have been over 677 branch closures across regional in the last five years - a 29 per cent decrease, which has significant economic and wellbeing impacts on customers and restricts access to financial services.


Despite the shift to digital banking, customer-owned banks have maintained a strong branch network and continue to hire more Australians to support their members, with 11,2000 people employed in a customer-owned bank in the most recent financial year.


With 720 branches throughout Australia, the sector operates 18 per cent of total bank branches and more than one in five branches in regional areas.


This significant impact was recognised at the roundtable, attended by Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, and Member for the Eden-Monaro, the Hon Kristy McBain MP, and representatives of the Customer Owned Banking Association and leaders of customer-owned banks from across Eden-Monaro.


The release of the COBA report coincides with the opening of a new Community Bendigo Bank in Bombala on Monday 20 March. The branch will provide critical banking services for Bombala locals including transaction, savings and term deposit accounts, loans, farm and business lending as well as face-to-face customer service.


To read COBA’s full report, visit: coba-kpmg-report-digital-1678767256ONmIN.pdf (


Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, and Member for the Eden-Monaro, the Hon Kristy McBain MP:

“This report from the Customer Owned Banking Association shows that people are putting their money where their community is and moving to customer-owned banking.


“In the last six months in Eden-Monaro we’ve had the big banks close branches in Bombala, Cooma, Queanbeyan, Narooma, which is extremely disappointing for all of those local people and local businesses.


“Locals want face-to-face services rather than decentralised and online alternatives, as banks with local knowledge can better tailor their services to meet the needs of local businesses.


“The customer-owned sector’s continued investment is improving community cohesion and engagement, creating jobs and skills opportunities, boosting local economies, and ensuring that local businesses can access the services they need to operate.


“It was great to discuss this impact at the recent regional banking roundtable, where I had productive discussions with representatives of customer-owned banks on how they continue to actively work with regional communities to enhance their services and expand their footprint.


“I encourage locals in Eden-Monaro and across regional Australia to carefully consider where they put their money, and how their bank gives back to their community.”