HAMILTON, New Zealand – New "hole-in-the-wall" automatic teller machines – giving credit union members unfettered access for the first time to ATMs at their own financial institutions – will be launched Sept. 11 at the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions annual conference here. The introduction of the new machines comes nearly one year after free-standing ATMs began going into the lobbies of credit unions in New Zealand's north and south islands. Those machines are only accessible when the credit unions are open for business. However, members who utilize a credit union's "New Zealand ACCESSCARD" have entree to a myriad of bank ATMs throughout the country. The card also can be used at EFTPOS facilities at large small businesses to pay for purchases and to obtain cash. More than 60,000 ACCESSCARDs are in use today, according to the credit union association. Vickie Mackenzie, a spokesperson with the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions, said the introduction of ATMs at credit unions provided a much needed service, especially in smaller communities which did not have a bank. The association represents 44 of some 55 credit unions operating in New Zealand. "Some New Zealand communities are so small that they don't have a bank, so there may not be a way for people there to easily access their funds," she said. "Credit unions provide smaller communities with services that people would never be able to get from banks." She cited the most recent ATM installation at the Nelson Credit Union in Murchison, a community that is not served by a bank. "It's a foot in the door to service the community," she said. She added that credit unions offered lower fees than banks on ATM access. In some cases, she noted, access to the credit union ATM was free. Mackenzie said banks were currently discussing whether to allow the cards they issue, such as ASB Bank's "Cashflow" card, to be used in either the free-standing or soon-to-be wall-mounted ATMs at credit unions. Both machines are from Triton. "Banks don't want to allow other cards to be used on our ATM machines," Mackenzie said. "They're not keen on it. It's something we're struggling with at the moment. But I think eventually they will have to be more open to the possibility." She admitted that credit unions in New Zealand lagged far behind the banking industry in introducing ATMs. "We are playing catch up, without a doubt," she said. So far, she said, 15 free-standing ATMs have been installed in credit unions, the majority of them in the North Island. The acceptance of the "hole-in-the-wall" machines by credit unions will be largely dependent on the ability to accommodate the machines, Mackenzie said. She said members have embraced the stand-alone ATMs in the credit unions. "I think they love it," she said. "They don't have to queue up, so it's faster to get cash." The ATMs also "free up tellers to focus on other services," Mackenzie added The new ATMs are scheduled to be announced at the association's annual meeting, which runs Sept. 11-13 in Hamilton. More than 150 delegates are expected to attend. Speakers from New Zealand, including Lianne Dalziel, the minister of commerce, and Australia are scheduled to address participants. -


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