The National Australia Bank (NAB) will not reverse its decision to close branches in Oberon and Lithgow despite the protests from residents and politicians.
The changes will also mean Oberon customers will loose access to the bank's ATM facility while Lithgow's ATM access is yet to be decided.
Calare MP Andrew Gee met with the bank's executives at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday, February 7, but walked away frustrated.
"They offered nothing in that meeting that they haven't already said. While I give them some credit for turning up to meet with me, it honestly felt like they were just going through the motions," he said.
"I don't think these banks have a real understanding of the distances that country people have to travel if they want to access a branch.
"There is little thought given to seniors and vulnerable customers who don't have access to transport."
The branches will close on April 23. Customers in Oberon wanting face-to face banking will need to embark on a 90 kilometre round trip to Bathurst, while Lithgow customers will need to travel a similar distance to Katoomba or a 125 kilometre trip to Bathurst.
Oberon Business and Tourism Association president Justin Enright said the closure will have many negative flow on effects for the town, including driving business away .
"People that have to go to the bank just by default might go 'I've got to go into Bathurst to go to the NAB so while I'm there I'll do an expedition down the street and I'll get some other items while I'm there and I'll bypass doing them locally in Oberon'," he said.
Mr Enright said the older population of Oberon would struggle to adapt to online banking and there were other factors to consider such as internet connectivity.
"With the internet connection not as reliable, people are trying to do transactions where they have to do, for example, two-factor authorisation and then it drops out midstream with a transaction or they can't connect at all," he said.
In September 2022, the federal government released the final report of the Regional Banking Taskforce. The first recommendation of the report said the Australian Banking Association (ABA) should review and strengthen its Branch Closure Protocol by mid-2023 to "improve communication and support when regional branches close".
Oberon financial literacy trainer Glen Stewart made a submission to the taskforce.
"Banks have a social responsibility in so much as they're an essential service," he said. "Whereas a newsagent isn't an essential service, if it shuts people will do other things like get a delivery.
"But at a bank you can't. You can't do it all from home, you can't just get cash printed out of your printer."
Mr Stewart said branch closures are inevitable but said banks need to run workshops for their customers to offer alternatives.
"At the moment they are saying 'just go online and it'll show you how to do the banking without us here'. But for those people who don't have a smartphone or don't have a laptop and don't have relatives that could do it for them - they're stuck," he said.
Mr Stewart also questioned how businesses taking cash would cope with the closure. Supermarkets, cafes and restaurants would be forced to hold onto cash for longer, also raising security issues, he said.
Oberon has two remaining bank branches, the Commonwealth and Reliance Bank. Last week Oberon Council announced it would facilitate a community information session about the closure.