Pharmacies set to become "banks of the bush"

Pharmacies set to become "banks of the bush"

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is reportedly on the verge of signing a retail banking agreement that it hopes will help lessen the impact of a mass bank exodus from rural areas.

An industry source claims the Guild - which represents about 95 per cent of Australia's 5000-plus pharmacies - is looking to form a banking alliance in a bid to make pharmacies "the banks of the bush".

The assertion follows several reports of purported unions between banks and retail outlets which are keen to offer electronic, on-site banking services - such as ATMs - at non-traditional banking sites in an attempt to survive in an increasingly liberalised environment.

"We've been saying that pharmacies are a really important part of community life and when the banks go, everything else goes with them. But pharmacies tend to keep going," a Guild official said. "Essentially, what we're saying is that pharmacies could be the banks of the bush."

Although it refutes claims that it plans to sign a retail banking deal "in the near future", the Guild spokesman said such a proposal is under consideration.

"We've made a submission to a standing committee saying that pharmacies could provide those sorts of financial services, but I don't think we're as close as speculation suggests to a deal with a particular bank."

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