Australia moves toward cashless society

Australia is moving closer to becoming a cashless society after over $1 billion of physical currency was removed from circulation over the last 12 months. There is currently $101.3 billion in circulation, which marks the lowest amount since 2019. 

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), until last year, the value of notes in circulation had increased every year since 1966 when it moved to decimal currency and away from pounds and shillings. 

In the last year, the use of cash has dropped, with $20 and $50 bills decreasing the most, and with $100 notes having a slight increase but slowing. 

An RBA survey reported by the Daily Mail showed that 75 percent of Australian citizens are "low cash users" which means they use cash less than 20 percent of the time when spending money in person. This is up 25 percent since 2019. 

Advocates of a cashless society say it will help curb criminal activity because their business model requires their transactions to be untraceable, but critics say that it will make life harder for the elderly and those in remote areas. 

There is also a risk of technology issues preventing citizens from being able to access money when they need it. One person told the outlet, 'It's crazy. It's our money, and we still need to, and want to be able to, use cash." They added, "What right does a bank have to say we can only transact the way they want us to transact?"

"'It's all about fees. They want everyone using EFTPOS so they can skim off that little fee that goes to their billions of profit every year," the person said. 

In the local newspaper The Age, Julie Christensen wrote about the benefits of using cash and urged those in charge to not take away cash. She said, "My $50 note can't be hacked. If I'm robbed, I lose $50, not my entire life savings. If my $50 note is accidentally immersed in water, it still works. My $50 note doesn't need batteries, it can't be ″⁣out of range″⁣ and it won't break if it's dropped. If the system is down, I can still use my note. My $50 note can be put into a charity box or given to a homeless person." 

"Sure I use a card sometimes for large purchases, but for everything else please leave me the option of cash. It simplifies life," Christensen concluded. 

The use of cash is expected to continuously decline in the coming years.

Image: Title: Anthony Albanese