A senior spokesman of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) spoke at a public meeting in Fraser Lake on April 11 to share information ahead of the closing of the local branch in September.
CIBC announced last year that it would close its Fraser Lake branch on Sept. 12, 2019.
Around 60 people attended the meeting that was organized by the Autumn Services Society for Senior Support, coordinator Elaine Storey told Lakes District News.
Jon Kastikainen, senior manager of stakeholder communications with CIBC from Toronto spoke first at the meeting and cited bank research that found 85 per cent of its clients do their banking online and no longer use brick and mortar banks.
“While they couldn’t give the local stats (claiming confidentiality) they admit that local clients use online technology for their banking needs,” Storey said. “The room full of folks – mostly over 50 – weren’t buying it as you can imagine.”
For about an hour attendees asked questions of the CIBC spokesman, who “was steadfast on their decision to not leave a bank machine after they close on Sept. 12.”
The planned exit of CIBC has left various sectors of Fraser Lake residents frustrated.
Business owners are worried about how they will make deposits and coin orders, as after Sept. 12 the only remaining bank outlet will be Toronto Dominion Canada Trust ATM.
Another concern is how the village’s elderly population will adjust since many of them have relied on physical banks for most of their lives.
“In my experience, some seniors have adapted quite well to technology and will pay bills by phone or online, but, many folks in rural [areas] have dial-up [connections] and they’ve had problems with the CIBC app.”
“There are the many with little capacity to learn this automated bill paying system, who don’t own a cell phone or a computer. It’s those clients who are being left high and dry,” Storey said.
Autumn Services has planned to hold electronic banking skill sessions to help prepare people before CIBC leaves.
That could supplement some support from CIBC staff.
“While the local bank team are willing to volunteer time to put a system in place using a dedicated computer or iPad, it’s hard to know how this will develop as they have all accepted positions in Burns Lake and Vanderhoof and won’t be in town after Sept. 12,” Storey said.
The Fraser Lake CIBC branch will consolidate with the Vanderhoof branch.
CIBC has 12 branches from Quesnel to Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia.