Australia’s transformation into a cashless society is accelerating, with a new report showing increasing abandonment of cash and cheques in favour of digital and electronic payments.
The Milestones Report from the Australian Payments Network (formerly the Australian Payments Clearing Association) found that the use of cheques declined by 20% in 2016 alone, while cash withdrawals from ATMs dropped by 22% between 2011 and 2016.
On the flip side, digital payments rose in popularity, with direct entry transactions (e.g. direct debits) increasing by 37% from 2011 to 2016, and card transactions increasing by 72% over the same period.
Retail stores were also found to be riding the cashless wave, based on Australia’s high number of point of sale (POS) devices compared to the population. Australia was found to have more POS terminals per million inhabitants than Canada, Italy, Singapore and Switzerland.
Even older Australians were found to be making more digital payments. Online spending for those aged 65 and up increased by 7.5%, with homeware/appliance and groceries/liquor experiencing the highest online spend.
Moving on from cash
The findings of the Milestones Report are in line with other recent studies on payments and the use of cash around the world.
A recent international ING survey found that one in four Aussies would be happy to live in a cashless society. One in three Europeans and Americans were also ready to leave cash behind for good, in favour of cards or fintech.
The Milestones Report drew similar conclusions, finding that Sweden was the closest to a cashless society, with just 15% of payments being made using cash, while 37% of Australia’s payments used cash.
A cashless economy isn’t an entirely theoretical exercise, either. Several Citibank branches are understood to have gone cashless, with Commbank predicting that we’re likely to see more and more cashless bank branches in the future.
And if cash is on the decline, cheques have been on the way out for much longer, with a 2012 Australian Payments Network report showing cheques having been in steady decline since 1996.