Bank of Hawaii Extends Departure Date By 12 Months

"Good news everybody!" The delay of Bank of Hawaii's (BOH) exit from the American Samoa market is good news for the territory's residents. The only other bank in American Samoa, ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank, is well known for their long lines and high fees and locals are not looking forward to being forced to have to deal with ANZ exclusively.

One of the accountants of a local company says she goes in the morning to ANZ in Tafuna and gets a queue number from ther little queue ticket machine by the door. She then returns to her office and a few hours later she grabs a quick lunch before going back to the bank to what is hopefully a shorter wait in their rows and rows of seating. Three to four hours after initially grabbing a number, and she still has to wait. Now, this could be in exaggeration. The wait could be as short as two hours on some days, but unless you're among the first in line waiting outside the door, early in the morning - the long waits during working hours are inevitable. 

But that's not why Bank of Hawaii's decision to remain another 12 months is such a big deal. While most of us aren't very keen to wait hours in a queue waiting for our numbers to be called, it isn't as big a deal as having American Samoa's only US bank leave. ANZ's antiquated banking platform makes direct deposits, money transfers, and a lot of functions common among American based banks nearly impossible. The online banking web site for ANZ's American customer base is also less friendly than the industry norm. To make things worse - ANZ's American Samoa branches doesn't offer debit cards with Visa or Mastercard functionality, while Bank of Hawaii's does.

The ability to use one's debit card at any outlet that supports credit card payments is a big deal for consumers where online shopping and local vendors prefer the reliability and assurance of payments using that method.

And I did mention the ridiculous fees, right...??? ANZ charges a $6 fee to withdraw money from a non-ANZ account via their ATM machines. That's practically highway robbery. I've heard that ATM's in strip clubs charge about that much to get quick access to your money. Strip clubs. Kapow!

So, BOH has closed their Tafuna branch but they'll be remaining open at their Utulei branch in town. You can swing by ANZ in Tafuna and get a number, then drive to Utulei and do your BOH banking, and get back to ANZ and still have to wait a couple of hours to be served.

Thank goodness we live on an island, or people would be driving across state lines to avoid using ANZ as their bank.

Can't wait until the new community bank can get set up. Looking forward to having a bank more responsive to our needs. Bank of Hawaii, while better than ANZ, hasn't offered local merchants mobile payment processing, even though they do offer this service in Hawaii.