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Australian Banks Warn of Cashless Future: ‘Going Digital’

Cash is no longer king in Australia, as a significant shift towards digital payment options has been observed. This trend has prompted Australia’s major banks to issue statements regarding the evolving financial landscape.

According to research from the Australian Banking Association (ABA), mobile wallet transactions have increased 18-fold since 2019. In 2023 alone, digital payments saw a 35 percent surge. Customers of the major banks made $126 billion in payments with their mobile wallets last year, surpassing total ATM cash withdrawals, which amounted to $105 billion, for the first time.

ABA CEO Anna Bligh emphasized that Australia is experiencing a “digital banking boom,” but reassured that banks will continue to support those who prefer cash and face-to-face banking services.

“This report shows that Australians are using less and less cash, but we’re not about to become cashless anytime soon,” Bligh stated. “Banks still maintain a strong branch network, with Australia having a higher branch density than the OECD average. This is complemented by the availability of face-to-face services at over 3,500 Bank@Post locations around the country.”

The ABA’s findings also revealed that over 75 percent of Australians have used a mobile wallet at least once in the past year, indicating a growing comfort with digital transactions. Additionally, the number of contactless payments has soared, with many consumers opting for the convenience of tap-and-go technology.

Despite this digital shift, Bligh reassured that the banking industry is committed to inclusivity. “We recognize the importance of providing services to all customers, including those in regional and remote areas where access to digital infrastructure may be limited,” she added.

Moreover, the ABA report highlighted efforts by banks to educate customers on digital banking tools and cybersecurity. Initiatives include workshops, online resources, and dedicated customer support to ensure a smooth transition for those unfamiliar with digital banking.

In conclusion, while the rise of digital payments in Australia marks a significant shift in consumer behavior, the banking sector remains dedicated to supporting all forms of transactions, ensuring that no customer is left behind in this digital transformation.

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