Aussies rushing to withdraw their money from ATMs - here's why (2024)

Aussies have rushed to withdraw cash from ATMs around the country as part of a fight against the rise of digital payments.

This mass withdrawal event, called 'Cash Out Day,' was organised by the Cash Is King Australia Facebook group and took place on Friday.

'Cash out tomorrow June 14th,' the group said in a recent post.

'Bank branch or ATM, get it out, use it don't lose it.'

Many Australians shared photos of themselves withdrawing hundreds of dollars from ATMs. Some even reported that the high demand as a result of the campaign caused some ATMs to run out of money.

Aussies are flocking to ATMs across the country to withdraw cash during Cash Out Day on Friday to demonstrate against wholly cashless transactions (stock image)

Organisers of the event urged those taking part to 'use it don't lost it' after a prior event in April was branded a 'huge success' by pro-cash advocates

Jackie van der Merwe, the owner ofCheeky Clips Grooming Salon, said she would only be accepting cash on Friday.

'Everything going through the banks just puts prices up. There's a surcharge for the client when they use a card and a surcharge for me. We all pay extra fees, and it just pushes costs higher,' she told Yahoo! News.

Finder's head of consumer research, Graham Cooke, told Daily Mail Australia that those who paid with cash can avoid extra card fees.

While some larger businesses absorb these costs into the price of their goods and services, many smaller ones lump customers with the bank fees.

The most popular way to pay with card is tap-and-go, which accounts for 95 per cent of in-person transactions, and is the most expensive.

While inserting a card into an Eftpos machine typically costs a merchant less than 0.5 per cent per transaction using contactless Visa and Mastercard payment can amount to 0.5 to 1 per cent each time for debit cards and 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent for credit cards.

On a purchase of $100 the average cost added is 28c for EFTPOS, 52c for using the Mastercard network, 47c for using Visa and a whopping $1.88 for digital payment provider Square.

Cash now forms just 13 per cent of all total customer payments in Australia

But Mr Cooke said the long-term trends were away from using cash even if it costs extra.

'It does seem Aussies are choosing the convenience of plastic even though they have to pay these fees,' he said.

Mr Cooke said he believed Australia eventually follow Britain where retailers are not allowed to charge extra for payment fees.

Read More How Aussie businesses and individuals could face huge fines if they refuse cash

Aussies could soon be legally protected to pay for goods and services with cash if independent MP Andrew Gee's Keeping Cash Transactions in Australia Bill passes through parliament.

If passed, the laws would require cash as a payment option for any transaction of up to $10,000.

Any individual refusing a cash payment under those circ*mstances could be fined up to $5,000, while a business would have to pay a maximum fine of $25,000.

'Many people, across both my electorate of Calare and around our great country, hold concerns and fears that the use of cash for transactions in Australia is being phased out and will soon disappear,' Mr Gee said

It comes after a new bill introduced by Independent MP Andrew Gee (centre) and backed by maverick minister Bob Katter (right) could see legal protections for Aussies paying in cash

'Shockingly, while the law provides that banknotes and coins are legal tender, there is currently no legal requirement for banknotes or coins to be accepted for transactions in Australia.

'In other words, carrying Australian banknotes is no guarantee that you will be able to complete a purchase in cash — it's all at the discretion of the business. If a business gives you notice that it won't accept cash, it won't have to.'

Read More Money expert sparks outrage after claiming cash is already dead: Here's why Aussies think she is wrong

The move is being supported by fellow independent MPs Bob Katter and Dai Le.

'It's vital for our community in western Sydney, and in particular culturally and linguistically diverse communities, because a lot of them do not trust the banking system,' Ms Le, the member for Fowler, said.

Mr Katter, the member for Kennedy, said it was vital that hard currency remain a payment option.

'Taking away cash, and thereby taking away the choices and freedoms of the people, is fundamentally unfair,' he said.

'With cash, we control it; we control how we spend it and save it.'

A customer trends report released in 2023 by the Australian Banking Association found that Aussies are the top users of cashless payments with almost 99 per cent of customers conducting their bank transactions by online means.

Cash now forms just 13 per cent of all total customer payments in Australia.

A report released by the RBA in 2023 found that 72 per cent of Aussies classified themselves as low-cash users.


Australia is rushing towards becoming a cashless society but not everyone is ready to wave goodbye to physical currency - and there are good reasons why.

The Covid pandemic supercharged a trend toward digital transactions that was already underway, with the use of digital wallet payments on smartphones and watches soaring from $746million in 2018 to more than $93billion in 2022.

By the end of 2022 cash only accounted for 13 per cent of Australian consumer payments compared to 70 per cent in 2007.

'The shift towards a cashless society in Australia isn't just a possibility, it's already well underway,' RMIT Associate Professor in Finance Angel Zhong said.

While Dr Zhong did not see banknotes disappearing completely, she believed they will become much rarer in day-to-day transactions.

'The functionally cashless society is where we enjoy the convenience of technology - we don't have to go out with a bunch of cash, we can use our phone and smartwatch to make payments,' she told Daily Mail Australia.

As more Australians embrace the trend a growing number of retailers are only accepting digital payments.

Major banks continue to close branches, shrink ATM numbers and are even opening 'cashless' branches, citing a customer preference for online services.

However, going electronic has its own sets of risks and could badly disadvantage some sections of the population.

Here are the 10 major concerns of going cashless.

RMIT Associate Professor in Finance Angel Zhong says legislation in Australia is trailing behind developments in electronics payment

1. It can leave out older Australians or others not digitally connected

Dr Zhong said the strongest adopters of digital payments were Australians aged between 18 and 29.

'Two-thirds of them use digital wallets,' she said.

However, many older Australians still preferred to pay in physical currency with almost one in five classified as a 'high-cash user'.

Dr Zhong said as Australia needed provide 'better support for other age groups to embrace technology, better literacy about systems in technology as well as financial assistance' for those struggling with the transition to digital payments.

Those on lower incomes and new migrants also typically rely more on cash.

2. It relies on internet coverage and reliable connectivity

Rural areas with slow internet can find digital transactions challenging.

However a major Commonwealth Bank outage in July demonstrated the vulnerability of digital finance even in urban areas.

Customers were left paralysed by the technical glitch and unable to access their accounts, transfer funds or use their cards to make purchases.

Dr Zhong said governments needed to support investment in infrastructure that boosted internet coverage and speeds to smooth the way for the digital revolution.

3. Some areas of the cash economy will suffer

Charity donations given on the street are dwindling because fewer people are carrying cash and the those who beg or busk for a living face the same problem, research conducted in 2020 found.

'While retailers and online merchants have benefited from cashless payment options, donation-seekers are left rattling an empty cup,' wrote University of Massachusetts' Spencer M. Ross and Auckland University of Technology's Sommer Kapitan.

'Aside from people carrying less cash, our research suggests another major reason is that people simply don't expect to see beggars or buskers with a swipe machine, or a QR code or Venmo symbol on their signs.'

4. 'Hidden' fees

Digital transactions often attract a fee, which might not be obvious at the time of purchase.

Warwick Ponder, the former executive manager of corporate affairs and communications at eftpos Payments Australia, told Daily Mail Australia that Paywave devices often levied a delayed credit surcharge.

Mr Ponder advised customers to avoid tapping as much as possible, as there could be a significant period of time before the money deducted registers in their account.

Banks also typically charge a higher fee for 'tap-and-go' purchases than for EFTPOS, with only cash attracting no extra cost.

5. Hacking and scams

It is estimated that Australians lost more than $2billion to online scams in 2021 - but the true figure could be much higher due to many incidents going unreported.

Major cybersecurity breaches of Optus and Medibank last year also highlighted the risk of identity theft online.

UNSW Institute for Cyber-Security director Nigel Phair told Daily Mail Australia that the nation 'has to do a lot better when it comes to cyber-crime'.

' The Australian Cyber-Security Centre said they had about 63,000 reports (of scams) last year, I reckon that's about a fifth of what the actual number is.

'The ACCC had about $2billion in reported losses from scams. I reckon that's nowhere near the right amount.'

6. Lagging legislation

Regulation of electronic payments often lags behind technological and market innovations.

Google Pay and Apple Pay are currently not subject to the same rules as credit cards and EFTPOS transactions.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers is updating legislation to change this.

'That payments Act is actually out of date,' Dr Zhong said.

'We need to regulate to ensure that we have an industry-wide standard to ensure that consumers' wellbeing and security are protected.'

7. Losing the value of money and less social interaction

Finance commentator Sarah Wells told Daily Mail Australia that children won't learn the true value of money and miss out on crucial social interactions if all transactions become digital.

'I believe it is better for children to use cash,' Ms Wells said.

'Giving a child $20 and taking them to a shopping centre or the movies helps them to learn to budget and helps them to make decisions by thinking more carefully.

'There's a responsibility in handing over money and such valuable social interaction - they learn to say 'please' and 'thank you' and look people in the eye.'

8. Loss of independent spending power

Ms Wells also warned that having 'a cash-starved society' could be bad news for those whose finances are being controlled or denied by someone else.

Ms Wells said young women who were fleeing domestic violence needed to be kept in mind when regulating digital payments.

Women in these circ*mstances risk being tracked by an abusive partner or being cut off from their finances.

'We need to make sure we are not compromising the safety, education and experience of minority groups and young minds in our endeavours to legislate contemporary payment platforms,' she said.

Australia is rapidly going cashless with digital payments being enthusiastically adopted, especially by younger consumers

9. Your spending can be tracked

The loss of anonymity and privacy is a major concern for many who oppose a 'cashless society'.

A petition created by Elizabeth Hynton which rails against the 'discrimination' faced by those who used cash has gathered more than 5000 signatures.

'Cash is private,' the petition states.

'When one pays via credit/debit card, the Government knows: what one spends their money on, how much they spend, where one spends their money and when the purchase was made, which is an invasion of privacy.'

Dr Zhong agreed that the concerns were valid.

'(With) anything digital there is always a vulnerability it will be tracked,' she said.

10. Loss of your and freedom of choice

This is perhaps the over-riding concern of many who oppose the cashless society.

The petition argues that cash should always be an option.

'One of the hallmarks of a free society is freedom of choice ... not just what suits an organisation, but also what suits the customer!' the petition states.

'We can't go on forever using COVID as an excuse.'

China presents a dystopian vision of how such control can be exercised, where people are subject to a social credit score that accrues or docks points depending on how desirable the individual's behaviour is according to the government.

A bad social credit score can mean being blocked from buying items such as plane or train tickets.

The Reserve Bank is currently examining the benefits of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) being introduced to to Australia, which would be a 'programmable' currency such as China's.

Although the RBA has stated such a currency could improve the 'efficiency and resilience' of payments it said one was not likely to introduced any time soon.

'Given the many issues that are yet to be resolved, any decision on a CBDC in Australia is likely to be some years away,' the RBA said.

Aussies rushing to withdraw their money from ATMs - here's why (2024)


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