Record number of debit cards to be issued to isolated customers

Tom Watson

29 Apr 2020

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The outbreak of COVID-19 has necessitated a different approach to the way Australians pay for their goods and services and we’ve already seen this play out through an increased use in contactless payment options and a move to online shopping. 

But what about those who’ve traditionally relied on cash and don’t have access to a debit card or credit card? 

According to the Australian Banking Association (ABA), over 500,000 Australian banking customers - many of whom are over the age of 70 - currently have a passbook or transaction account without an attached debit card. 

While paying with cash would not have been an issue under normal circumstances, advice from the Department of Health is for Australians over the age of 70, as well as other at-risk groups, to stay at home as much as possible to avoid the risk of infection. 

To help address this, the ABA said today that banks will be sending out a ‘record number’ of debit cards for free over the next few weeks to self-isolating or quarantined customers.

“A significant number of older Australians still operate passbook accounts with which they withdraw cash at a bank branch, and do not have any card linked to that account,” said Council on the Ageing chief executive, Ian Yates. 

“During the Covid-19 period these people have found purchasing goods and services difficult when some retailers have stopped accepting cash. Agreeing to activate a debit card sent to you by your bank, or responding to an invitation from your bank to issue a card, will ensure you maintain control of your affairs whilst giving you more options to spend your money.” 

Customers will not be obliged to activate or use any new debit card, but bank staff will be available to answer questions on how to use debit cards and online banking for customers who are interested. 

While ABA chief executive, Anna Bligh said the initiative was important to ensure that everyone can access banking services, she also sought to reassure customers about security concerns. 

“Paying for goods and services is critical for every single person in our community and will continue regardless of the level of lockdown in our community,” she said. 

“The industry has recognised that as a result of the Government’s social distancing advice, particularly for older Australians, we must provide additional options for people to do their banking and pay for goods and services.”

“We understand that some people who haven’t used a debit card in the past might have concerns over safety and security, however they should be rest assured that it’s safe, it’s secure and you can track your spending.”

RELATED: CommBank: More Aussies embrace digital wallets amid COVID-19 restrictions

For more information on debit cards, including a range of helpful guides and answers to some frequently asked questions, make your way over to Mozo’s dedicated debit card hub.

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