Over 40% of Australian businesses report accepting cash due to consumer demand

May 23, 2023


The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has issued a report titled ‘The Cash Use Cycle in Australia’, taking a comprehensive look at trends and drivers in cash use across the country.

Despite growth in digital payment options, cash is a popular payment method. A 2022 survey shows around 25 percent of people used it in their most recent in-person transaction, with most preferring it for lower-value transactions.

As in many other countries, the number of high denomination banknotes in circulation is trending upward, with $50 and $100 bills in high demand. This is likely attributable to people seeking the reassurance of keeping a cash store in the home, ready for use in case of emergencies that render cashless options unreliable or unusable. The growth in lower denomination notes—more often used in transactions—has been slower.

The most popular means of accessing cash is via ATMs, with retrieving cash at retailers (e.g., via electronic funds transfers) a distant second. The percentage of people getting cash directly from bank branches was around equal to those getting it from family members. Receiving it in payment for goods and services was also frequently mentioned.

The distance to the nearest cash withdrawal point for people across the country has seen little change in the past few years, despite bank and ATM closures. RBA attributes this to good geographic coverage of Bank@Post services provided by Australia Post.

Cash acceptance reportedly declined after the onset of the pandemic, but has since seen a rebound. Around 33 percent of survey respondents reported a vendor not accepting cash in 2022 versus around 50 percent in 2020. The report concludes ‘indicators suggest that cash acceptance may be a little lower than prior to the pandemic, but nonetheless remains at a high level.’

The Bank… has committed to working to support the ongoing provision of cash services in Australia, including by monitoring the ability of consumers to access and pay with cash.
"Reserve Bank of Australia
Last Updated: May 23, 2023