Death of cash blamed on crippling pandemic

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, the number of cash withdrawals at ATMs fell by 15.3 per cent in the 2021 financial year across the country. There were 394.7 million withdrawals last year, 466 million in 2020 and 575.7 million in 2019.National Australia Bank executive everyday banking Paul Riley said Covid had contributed to the death of cash.“The pandemic has accelerated the trend away from cash and towards online banking,” he said. “We have heard many stories of customers being delighted to learn what they can now easily do online, on their mobile, at a time and place that suits them.” NED-6163-Death-of-CashPhysical notes and coins became frowned upon in early 2020 as public health officials globally encouraged people to quit paying with money and switch to making card-only payments in order to reduce the risk of transferring germs and potentially further spreading Covid. Mr Riley said a customer, who was 105 years old, signed up for her first debit card in the early months of the pandemic. He said more than 94 per cent of customer interactions were taking place over the phone, by video or online.“The way Australians are choosing to bank continues to change, reflecting the fact our lives are increasingly digital,” Mr Riley said. A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson said customers were embracing digital wallet payments.“According to CBA data, digital wallets represented 40 per cent of total contactless transactions in the January-March 2022 quarter,” they said. “This is up from 30 per cent share from a year ago, highlighting the continued trend to digital wallets.”Finder head of consumer research Graham Cooke said the lifespan for paper money was shortening.“Finder predicted a cashless society in Australia by 2036 a few years back and now even that timeline may be too far away,” he said. Commerce company Square found that one in four Australian businesses switched to a cashless system last year compared to one in 12 in 2020. “Cash has already been pushed to the edges of our economy, and cash-only businesses are few and far between,” Mr Cooke said. “Expect them to get even rarer.”

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