Cash payments continue to decline as Aussies move to electronic methods

The plunge in the number of Aussies opting to use cash payments has continued as electronic payments rear their head as the primary method.
The Reserve Bank of Australia’s Consumer Payment Survey showed in the past three years the percentage of Australians paying with cash has halved from more than 27 per cent of total payments to just 13 per cent.

“With Australian consumers increasingly opting to make their payments electronically, the trend decline in transactional,” the central bank said.

handful of australian money cash
Australians are moving more towards card only payments. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The RBA found most Australians used cash infrequently in 2022 – if at all.

“Just over half of the respondents did not use cash at all during the diary week in 2022, up from about one-third in 2019 and around one-fifth in 2016,” the bank said.

The bank found that past survey results would have been influenced by businesses not accepting multiple payment methods like some cafes or small retailers may have been cash only.

RBA rate rises Reserve Bank of Australia
The RBA’s Consumer Payment Survey revealed just 13 per cent of respondents used cash in 2022. (Today)

But in 2022, the bank found customers can rely on card payments in day-to-day transactions with small retailers moving to accept card payments.

”Innovations in the payments space has also meant that consumers can now make contactless card payments using their mobile phone, further increasing the convenience of card payments and decreasing the need to carry a physical wallet and cash,” the bank added.

The downward trend in cash payments wasn’t isolated to particular demographics, the bank found, rather Australians of all ages, income groups and locations used cash less frequently.

There was a notable shift in Australians over 50 and those in regional areas making cash payments in 2022 – groups that traditionally used cash more regularly.

Consumers aged over 50 made just under 22 per cent of their weekly in-person payments in cash in 2022 compared to 42 per cent in 2019 and a whopping 74 per cent in 2007.

Aussies across demographics are moving to card payments. (Nine)

The quickening pace of Australians shifting to a cashless world was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said.

If cash use followed the pre-pandemic trend, then in 2022 it would have been 22 per cent of payments as opposed to the recorded 13 per cent.

Some Australians however are still heavily reliant on cash, with around 5 per cent of those surveyed using it for all in-person payments, citing reasons like privacy and security or budgeting for the method.

For this group the move to a cashless society would be a “major inconvenience”, the bank added.

For the other 80 per cent of low-cash users, they said a move to a cashless society would have little effect on their day-to-day lives.