Aussies Not on Board with Cashless Future

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By Published On: April 3, 20241 Comment

Many fear that going fully cashless will exclude certain population groups as they express mistrust of financial service providers.

Australia’s financial services industry still has a trust gap to fill before consumers will embrace a fully digital economy, according to Waave’s Cashless Future 2024 research.

71 percent of consumers have concerns about moving to a fully cashless society. The top concern surrounds inequality with 63 percent of respondents saying that going cashless will exclude certain population groups, exacerbating economic inequality.

Lower income earners represented the highest concentration of this opinion with 75 percent of lower income households earning less than $100k highlighting the issue. 58 percent of overall respondents are worried they will pay more in banking and card fees with a move to cashless transactions, further exacerbating this group. 

Population groups who are less technology savvy or have more limited access to financial services are also struggling to see the benefits. 

“Baby Boomers” expressed the greatest concern with the shift toward a cashless society at 82 percent. Over half (54 percent) of Baby Boomers admitted they are ‘extremely concerned’. By contrast, Waave found that 46 percent of the digitally native generation, Gen Z,  are not concerned that Australia is moving towards a cashless society, including one fifth (18 percent) who are not concerned at all.

Other accessibility concerns come from regional Australians with 77 percent highlighting unequal access to financial services and support in their communities. 

Its not just concerns of inequality, 42 percent of respondents will miss the opportunity to handle cash in hand, in a phenomenon Waave has dubbed. ‘cash nostalgia’

A major concern is a lack of trust in financial services to operate ethically in a cashless society with 42 percent of respondents highlighting this factor. Trust is key as respondents also highlighted that cashless payments result in them having less control over spending when paying in digital form. 

“Australians are among the highest adopters of digital payments in the world, but they are rightly worried about who is really protecting their interests,” says Ben Zyl, co-founder and CEO of Waave. “The current digital payments system has not been built with consumer security or control in mind – people are getting their details stolen, fumbling around with passwords, and paying ridiculous card fees and surcharges. There’s a lot of fear, particularly among those who can’t access alternatives or aren’t confident using technology. 

While cash now accounts for just 13 percent of payments in Australia, a social media campaign to protest the move toward cashless gained momentum earlier this week. ‘Draw Out Some Cash Day’ encouraged people to head out to ATMs and withdraw cash in a mass protest of this societal change with social media users citing many of the same concerns outlined above.

“We need to build trust, identity, and place consumers in the driver’s seat of their digital money,” emphasised Zyl. “It’s up to governments, banks and retailers to move faster in adopting and promoting the latest technologies to create a cashless system for consumers that is fair, transparent and user-friendly for everyone.”

About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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One Comment

  1. caughtintheact April 3, 2024 at 6:37 PM - Reply

    Yes, there is a cost to keep cash in circulation, but once the only option is cashless, expect the government to keep laying on increasing transaction fees. Complain and you can lose all your money and be “excluded from society”. There will be costs of not being able to purchase what you need when you need it. The biggest cost of all will likely be loss of losing all semblance of freedom, and even to losing the lives of you and your loved ones at a young age by merely complaining, criticizing and/or refusing to obey or comply. Even garbage has more credibility than a politician’s promise today for the future. Remember: Cashless can easily be turned into moneyless, and moneyless can become lifeless. Say NO to cashless, say NO to digital IDs, say NO to ESG scoring, say NO to a CBDC, and say NO to slavery.

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