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Local business baffled by Commonwealth Bank policy change

A local Sydney business owner who attempted to exchange cash at a major bank has been left baffled by a discreet policy change.
Owner of Zinc Cafe, Peter Hurren, walked into a Commonwealth Bank at Potts Point expecting to exchange four $50 notes into smaller denominations of $10 notes to collect change for his business, which sits only metres away.
But he was left puzzled when a teller informed him they could not swap his notes because he wasn't a CBA customer.
Zinc Cafe in Potts Point in Sydney's inner-east
Zinc Cafe owner Peter Hurren has been left baffled by a little-known policy change by Commonwealth bank. (Google Maps)
"I thought that doing something as simple as changing big notes for smaller notes, which we have been able to do in the past all the time, wouldn't be a big issue," he explained to
"But it became an issue because they've stopped doing it for non-customers."
Australian banks have closed more than 424 local branches - or 11 per cent of all bank outlets - across the country in the last 12 months.
More than 400 bank branches have closed in the last 12 months to June 30.
More than 400 bank branches have closed in the last 12 months to June 30. (Getty)
Since 2017, the number of bank branches have been slashed by more than a third in cities and regional areas.
Potts Point has also seen the closure of ANZ, Westpac and NAB, with Commonwealth Bank the only remaining branch to stay open.
Hurren wondered why such a high-density area, which was home to over a dozen businesses, would only have one bank branch within a two-kilometre radius. 
"That's the only trading bank left in the area," he said.
"So if I'm going to continue to take cash off people, I'm going to be able to change big notes for small notes and the only place I could think of to do that was a bank."
"It never used to be an inconvenience they used to do it on the spot."
Hurren said until recently he had been able to collect change at the branch and when he queried the sudden rule change he was simply told "it's just policy".
However, he suspects it's more of a push to make people go cashless.
"Cash you don't pay fees on anything so you can withdraw cash from the bank go buy a coffee and there's no added fee," he said.
"If you tap a credit card usually attracts a merchant fee, or if it's coming off a credit balance you're paying interest on it, this is what the banks want.
"This is why they want everyone to go cashless, because for them it's all about accumulating the fees.
"But I think if you live locally, and the bank's there, you should be able to do what you want - cash is still a legal tender."
Commonwealth Bank told it restricted cash exchange services in June this year "to focus on providing the best service for our customers".
"We understand this may create challenges for businesses in the area who bank with other financial institutions," a spokesperson for the bank said.
"We encourage them to contact their bank regarding their options." reached out to the other major banks.
NAB, Westpac and ANZ all confirmed they do not have any current branch processes where staff must identify customers to exchange cash. 
Hurren explained it was already difficult to bank his end-of-day takings, and that the policy change added an extra hurdle for a local business like his, which has been operating in the area for more than 20 years.
"I just thought it was a bit ungracious - not neighbourly," said Hurren.
In the end Hurren was forced to open a transaction account with the bank as a lot of elderly customers, tourists and people who travel to from the regions still use cash.
"I can see people's point you could potentially be making a paying customer wait, but what's changed?" he said.
"You just have to wait your turn, that's the way of the world."

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