Ready for a cashless Australia? A recent survey shows cash may disappear within a decade with almost a quarter of us not carrying cash in our wallets today.
The survey by a comparison site, Finder, shows that almost one in four Australians do not carry cash. That is, 23 per cent of the surveyed 1000 people do not bother with wallets. Put another way, that’s 4.4 million Australians who are, in an average week, cashless.
Around 21 per cent of the surveyed said they carry only $1 to $10 on average, which means about 44 per cent or half of Australia carries just minimal cash in their wallets.
The findings show that there is a correlation with age and going cashless. Younger Australians carry the least amount of cash while older people carry the most. Generation Z, or those aged 24 and younger carry an amount of $37 while older generation aged 59 to 70 carry an amount of $70.
Generation Y or those aged 24 to 38 are twice as likely to not carry cash with them as Baby Boomers or those aged 59 plus.
Aside from age, the research also shows that there is a connection with gender and going cashless. Men carry cash more than women. Men carry an average of $74 in cash while women carry only $44.90 in cash.
Normally, Australians carry an average of $59.40 in cash which goes up or down depending on age and gender. Also, one in six Australians carry about $100 or more in cash.
53 per cent of Australians prefer to go cashless carrying $20 or less in cash while 73 per cent carry $50 or less.
A similar study made by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in 2016 found that only 37 per cent of payments in Australia are made with cash.
Australians preferring to go cashless can also be seen reflected in ATM withdrawals. In a separate report by the RBA, there is a significant decline in ATM withdrawals. In 2018-19, there is an average of 23 ATM withdrawals per person, down from 40 in 2008.
Money expert Bessie Hassan observed that Australians are increasingly becoming cashless in favour of debit, credit and other digital payments.
She also noted that the use of digital loyalty, membership, and transport cards are also on the rise, with people preferring to use their mobile phones to access them. The little amount of cash that people carry in their wallets is only for occasions when cash is needed.
Cashless Australia: An Exaggeration
Amidst all claims that Australia is heading towards being a cashless society, Professor Steve Worthington of Swinburne University of Technology believes that the assertion is grossly exaggerated.
He noted that this month’s widespread system outage in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) proved that cash is very important.
He gave the example of transacting digitally when filling up petrol or parking cars and the system is down. Obviously, digital money has no value in this case and you’re better off with having cash.
The professor said that Australians’ increasing dependence on digital payments system is a cause for concern. He said cash is something that is constant and one that elderly people, disabled Australians, and new migrants especially need because they might find it hard to have access to credit or debit cards.
So, can Australia go cashless? If it does, how will that affect the rest of the society? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
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