POSTED: 11:41 p.m. HST, Mar 11, 2013
Zions Bank and American Samoa officials said late Monday night that the Salt Lake City financial institution intends to take over government payroll processing and other select banking services for American Samoa. Zions Bank does not intend to have a physical presence in the U.S. territory nor does it plan to take over all banking functions that Bank of Hawaii currently provides to American Samoa citizens.
Bank of Hawaii plans to close its Tafuna branch in American Samoa on Friday but said last week it will keep open its only other branch — in Utulei — an additional 90 days until June 14. Bankoh has been in American Samoa for more than 40 years but said it is pulling out due to the territory's geographic isolation from the bank's other markets.
A hearing is scheduled by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Hilton Hawaiian Village to discuss the impact of Bankoh's pending withdrawal from American Samoa.
Bankoh's departure would leave Australia-based ANZ, owned by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, as the only other bank in the territory. However, a group of American Samoa business people and residents are raising money in an attempt to start a community bank, which would need approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"I applaud Zions Bank's efforts to help us through some of the hardship that Bank of Hawaii's closures will cause, but we still need a physical American bank in American Samoa and we still need an effective way to share funds between American Samoa and Hawaii," said Leotele Renee Togafau, a University of Hawaii law student raised in American Samoa and actively working to encourage Bank of Hawaii to delay its branch closures. "This does not change the fact that we still need Bank of Hawaii to stay until we have a real banking alternative."