Banks act to keep cash convenient

Today the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has authorised the main users of cash including banks, retailer providers and Australia Post to undertake industry discussions ensuring cash remains readily available to all Australians.

Customers’ usage of cash has plunged from 70% in 2007 to 13% in 2022. The cash spiral is showing no signs of slowing – projected to reach just 4% by 2030.

“This changing nature of cash usage is creating strain on the distribution system and banks are taking action to support Government to ensure that people who need or want to use cash can still get access to it,” said ABA CEO Anna Bligh.

Despite the decline in people using cash for payments, RBA data shows there has never been more banknotes in circulation at any point in Australia’s history.

“The challenge facing our economy and society is that as the use of cash for payments declines, the unit cost of transporting and distributing it escalates.”

“The reason the ABA sought authorisation from the ACCC is so banks can be part of the solution to design a sustainable model for people to access cash in the long-term future.” said Ms Bligh.

“As Australians, we are using much less cash, but we will not be cash-less any time soon.” said Ms Bligh.

Armaguard, Australia’s largest cash-in-transit operator (90% market share), recently advised banks that the challenge of rapidly declining cash use has now put the continued viability of their business at risk. The production, issuance and wholesale distribution of cash in Australia is the responsibility of many stakeholders including Government, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the privately operated cash-in-transit sector.

This interim authorisation covers banks along with retailers like supermarkets and non-bank ATM deployers, Australia Post and other businesses who utilise cash.

“Treasurer Jim Chalmers has made it clear the Government considers access to cash as a priority for the Australian economy. Banks are determined to do everything they can to ensure that their customers, including large retailers and small businesses, can continue to access cash when they need it.”

“Cash continues to be a very important way for many people to pay for the things they need either at a local pub or bakery and even very low cash users rely on it when eftpos systems experience an outage including in natural disasters or times of crisis.”

“Banks want to make sure customers, retailers and small businesses can access cash when they need it and will work with the Government and the RBA to ensure this happens. An ACCC authorisation is key to facilitating the necessary discussions.”

/Public Release. View in full here.