Reality cheque: Aussies continue to ditch physical payments in favour of digital options

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Article by Tom Watson

If there was ever any doubt that the way Australians bank is well and truly changing, a new report has shown that Aussies are forgoing cheques and cash at historic levels, with a record 20% drop in cheque use in 2016 alone.

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Figures shown in the latest Milestone Report - ‘The Digital Economy’ produced by the Australian Payments Network revealed that the 20% drop in cheque use in Australia during 2016 was the largest ever recorded and part of a longer trend which has seen a 56% decrease in cheque use since 2011.

The trend away from physical payments was also exemplified by both the fall in number and value of ATM withdrawals. Withdrawals dropped by 7.5% in 2016 to 648.5 million, and have dropped 22% in the five years since 2011 from 828 million. 

“Looking at the payment choices that Australians make, it’s clear that the vast majority of us are moving away from cash and cheques faster than ever before,” said Dr Leila Fourie, CEO of the Australian Payments Network.
“This is happening because of widespread use of new technology combined with a strong preference for faster and more convenient payment options.”

Figures in the report suggest that cash and cheques are increasingly being replaced by credit and debit cards which Australians used for 7.4 billion transactions in 2016 - up 72% over the past five years since 2011.

According to RBA data from March cards are now the preferred payment choice for transactions over $10, with more than 75% of face-to-face purchases made using ‘tap and go’.

With digital payment methods such as card and mobile becoming the preference for most Australians, the Australian Payments Network has suggested that this is part of what it characterises as a shift towards a “less-cash society.”

The report revealed that cash use in Australia now accounts for just 37% of all payments, and with the introduction of the New Payments Platform (NPP) expected later this year, which will provide near instantaneous transactions, the figure could continue to drop even more.

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