How New Zealanders Use Cash

Apr 19, 2022


The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has released its latest Cash Use Survey, revealing 63 percent of people continue to use cash for everyday purchases. Access is generally good, with just eight percent of respondents saying it was difficult to withdraw cash, while depositing cash is more challenging, with 24 percent experiencing problems.

The report notes a sharp decline in cash usage compared with the 2019 survey, when 96 percent of New Zealanders were using cash. For those who continue to do so, 60 percent use it more than twice a week, and two percent of the population identify themselves as ‘heavy cash users’ compared with five percent in 2017.

Between 2017 and 2021, the amount of people storing cash rose from 38 percent to 46 percent, in line with trends observed around the world. The survey showed little change in how much cash people carried on their person, with 74 percent holding cash compared with 75 percent in 2019.

The report also highlights significant differences between cash use among Māori and non- Māori populations, with 22 percent of Māori preferring cash over other payment methods compared to 12 percent of non- Māori. It suggests cultural reasons for this, with 42 percent of Māori people saying they use cash for traditional purposes such as koha: gifts exchanged as part of the culture of reciprocity to maintain social relationships.

The results from the survey inform the Reserve Bank’s policy development and engagement with the cash industry, fulfilling an ongoing commitment ‘to closely monitor and support the availability of cash and cash services for the public.’

Last Updated: Apr 19, 2022