Australia was already quickly becoming a “cashless” culture – but apparently the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the development.
Banks have been forced to close down branches and withdraw ATMs as the COVID-19 crisis escalates, according to new estimates from the Australia Payments Network.
Between April and June the organisation estimates 2151 ATMs have been removed across the country.
Over the past year, the big four banks also shut down 175 branches collectively, with major banks including the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB all announcing the closure of branches as a result of changing staffing needs and a fall in foot traffic as the public health disaster unfolds.
Meanwhile, PayPal Australia’s new research has revealed a significant shift to e-commerce and a move away from cash, with 23 per cent of Australian businesses and 21 per cent of consumers now totally cashless.
The research also found that around 2.5 million adults first began shopping online during COVID-19, while 57 per cent of Australians expect cash to be phased out of personal expenditure by 2030.
As you would predict, the youth are leading the transition to cashless, with just a fraction of the younger generation saying they will still use cash, compared to 46 percent of older Australians.
“The impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce in Australia is difficult to overstate. Millions of transactions that would normally have taken place in stores shifted to digital and more than two million Australians started shopping online for the first time,” PayPal’s Australian senior director Peter Cowan said.
This comes when many Australian retailers started refusing to accept cash this year in a bid to protect staff and slow COVID-19 spread, with many fearing “dirty” notes and coins infections.
Most big corporations have absolutely banned cash transactions for months now, or have actively urged consumers to pay electronically for security purposes.
Earlier this year, Gerard Dwyer, national secretary of the Association of Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees, told the ABC banning cash was an effective way to keep retail workers “frontline” safe.
“We would like to see alternate cash registers closed,” he said at the time.
“We would like to see us move to card only, no cash. Cash is a carrier.”
The survey further emphasised that four out of five Australians preferred contactless forms of payment, opting to use their mobile wallet, credit or debit cards over cash.