ME Bank study suggests neediest could be hardest hit in cashless society

As more and more Australians continue to adopt digital money as their preferred payment method, a new study has revealed that the shift away from physical cash may be leaving some Aussies behind.

According to a study by ME Bank of 2,000 transaction account holders, 61% were using less cash than they were five years ago, with many respondents suggesting that the change was having a negative impact on their generosity towards charities, buskers and the homeless.

“Inevitably, there will always be winners and losers as technology advances our ability to go cashless,” said Nic Emery, ME Head of Deposits and Transactional Banking.

“The move to digital money may exclude some Australians as ‘going cashless’ requires an active bank account, which many of our poorest are unlikely to have.”

The study found that a reduction in the use of physical cash meant that 44% of respondents were less likely to donate to charities on the street.

Individuals were also less likely to give money to buskers (42%), or to people less fortunate than themselves e.g. the homeless (42%).

“Consumers are benefitting from tracking their spending and innovations that make their lives easier such as apps that pay for coffee or parking,” said Emery. 

“But there are also losers in the growing preference for digital money, including those who in the past have relied on gratuities and cash donations like waiters and charities.”

Despite almost two thirds of respondents indicating that they were becoming more reliant on cashless payment methods, 39% reported that they were keeping the same amount or even more cash on them than five years ago.

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