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COVID-19 accelerates the shift to digital payments only

New research from MyState Bank reveals covid-19 has accelerated the transition to a ‘less cash’ society in Australia due to concerns about health risks.

Research conducted by MyState Bank found that since the pandemic outbreak more than two-thirds (68%) of Australians are using less cash in favour of contactless technology and other digital payments methods.

Of those who reported using less cash, 67% said they expect to continue using digital payments methods instead of cash, even after the pandemic has subsided.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of MyState Bank Melos Sulicich, “The rise of online shopping, digital wallets and the whole convenience of digital payment methods has pushed many consumers to reduce or even eliminate cash from their lives.”

“The speed at which Australia is moving towards a ‘less cash’ or even cashless society is also clearly being accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Related: Finding money to rebound from the pandemic

Around half of those surveyed reported before the outbreak of Coronavirus that more than 50% of their purchases were made using contactless and digital payment methods. During the outbreak of Coronavirus, seven in 10 of those surveyed reported more than half of their purchases were made using contactless and digital payment technologies – an increase of 20%.

MyState Bank’s own data also shows that ATM withdrawals through their own network had fallen by 32% in the last year, rapidly escalating in recent months – which also indicates the shift to a society using less cash is growing rapidly.

As COVID-19 has sparked global panic around hygiene, the research also found that more than six in 10 Australians (64%) believe you can contract COVID-19 from handling bank notes and coins.

Australians not ready to go completely cashless

With experts predicting that the outbreak of COVID-19 has accelerated Australia’s transition towards a cashless society, many hold concerns for their financial position if physical cash were to completely disappear.

According to MyState Bank, as many as seven in 10 Australians do not want a totally cashless society.

For almost half of the population, incurring extra merchant fees when paying and network outages were the biggest concerns of the transition towards a cashless society. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of Australians would be concerned about their reliance on credit products such as credit cards, while a quarter of Australians believe they will spend more with the absence of physical cash.

Mr Sulicich highlighted the shift to a less cash society brings many benefits including increased convenience and security for both consumers and businesses when making and accepting transactions.

“Our research indicates that, as a nation, we are not ready for cash to be banished completely. It is important for banks to support those who may struggle with the transition to a predominantly digital model as not all Australians have the means to eliminate cash. There are people in our society which would struggle in a cashless society such as the elderly, the homeless population and those with disabilities.”

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