Could cash be making a comeback?

By Monika Gudova ·

With Aussies leading the world in contactless payments, it comes as a surprise that cash, the so called out-of-fashion way to pay, may be making something of a steady comeback.

At least that’s according to MWE Consulting, who were reported in Banking Day as saying that withdrawals at Australia ATMs and Eftpos-enabled merchants has begun to increase after a decade-long decline in cash usage by Australians.

Since June 2017, the average number of cash withdrawals has increased by 1.27%, from 18.06 transactions per debit account to 18.29 and debit cardholders withdrew $148.55 billion from ATMs in June.

But before you get too excited about the return of cash as king, MWE pointed out that one major reason the value of transactions per account rose is that RBA data shows the number of open debit accounts recently dropped by 25% - or around 10 million accounts - while the overall value of transactions actually rose. That suggests that while less people are using debit, those that are may be withdrawing slightly larger amounts.

“There has not been any growth in the value of ATM transactions since early 2012 but current indications are that the total value of ATM withdrawals will soon return to growth,” said MWE Consulting Managing Director and former ANZ executive, Mike Ebstein.

“I think we will see some growth but it’s likely to be fairly modest.”

Non-bank ATMs overtaking the big 4

According to MWE, the increase in cash usage is being driven by independent ATM suppliers, rather than the major bank networks.

Whilst the average annual cash withdrawal from bank ATMs flatlined over the last year, independent suppliers such as Next Payments and NCR saw an increase in how much money Aussie’s were taking out.

This could be due to independents dominating the Australian ATM network, with about 57% of all Aussie ATMs supplied by specialists in June 2017, according to RBA.

And with big bank ATM networks declining as part of a wider trend following the removal of withdrawal fees at Big 4 ATMs last year, non-bank ATMs have been stepping in to fill that void.

“While Aussies may be ready to say goodbye to ATM fees, they’re not ready to say goodbye to cash,” said Mozo Director, Kirsty Lamont.

“Many still rely on it for their weekly shop or trip down to the markets.”

Whether you’re paying with cash or card, it’s essential you’re keeping costs low. Check out Mozo’s bank account comparison table to compare a range of bank accounts with low or no fees.