How Supporting Cash Can Address Societal Concerns in Australia

Jun 19, 2024


Data from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) shows cash withdrawals are rising, even as ATMs continue to close and research shows 41 percent of Australians are ‘extremely concerned’ about the disappearance of cash.

7NEWS reports on RBA data showing there were 30.2 million ATM withdrawals in January 2024: the highest number in a year, with a value of more than $9 billion, which is the largest sum since July 2020.

The survey of 1,080 Australians—conducted by payment technology company Waave—showed 29 percent do not trust payment methods that are not exclusively between the customer and the merchant (i.e. cashless payments requiring data gathering and authentication from third party companies) and 42 percent ‘do not trust financial services to operate ethically in a cashless society.’

Whether you’re younger or older, the psychology around cash is unique. We like the feel of it, the sense of control, and we tend to spend less when we pay with cash.
"Ben Zyl, Waave CEO

63 percent of respondents expressed worry that moves towards a cashless society will exacerbate economic inequality, while ‘over half believe bank and card fees would continue to rise in a cashless society.’ Over a third of Gen Z and Baby Boomers alike were concerned about ‘losing control’ when spending digitally.

[Younger communities] are rightly worried about who is really protecting their interests. The current digital payments system has not been built with consumer security or control in mind. People are getting their details stolen, fumbling around with passwords, and paying ridiculous card fees and surcharges.
"Ben Zyl, Waave CEO

Preserving access to cash and the right to use it in payment is a strong, straightforward way to address these growing concerns. Cash is inclusive, allowing anyone from the very young to the very old to make and receive payments, and serving as competition to cashless payment options. It is private, enables people to spend or save without the oversight or permission of third parties, and protects personal data. It is also common sense, helping to teach financial basics in early life and support people with budgeting throughout their lives.

Payment choice matters, and by keeping cash alongside developing and broadening the range of cashless payments, Australia and countries nationwide can foster resilient economies that allow personal freedom.

Last Updated: Jun 19, 2024