Cash on the way out

Consumers are now spending three times as much on their credit and debit cards as they withdraw in cash, as the relentless drive to a cashless society accelerates, according to the latest Reserve Bank of Australia statistics. Australians used their ‘fantastic plastic’ to pay for $444 billion worth of purchases in 2012-13, compared with $164 billion for ATM and eftpos cash withdrawals.

Credit and debit cards accounted for 79.6 per cent of all transactions in 2011/12, rising to 81.8 per cent in 2012/13.

This compared to a fall in ATM and eftpos cash withdrawls from 20.4 per cent to 18.2 per cent over the same period. Independent eftpos provider, Tyro Payments, says Australian consumers are increasingly moving away from cash as online, tablet, mobile, and contactless payments systems replace the old way of thinking.

“We are approaching a tipping point for the end of cash as we know it,” says Jost Stollmann, CEO of Tyro Payments.

“It is conceivable that we are not far off when consumers leave home entirely without cash, armed only with a credit or debit card to pay for anything from a package of chewing gum to a new car. “With the number of Eftpos terminals Australia-wide having grown to almost 780,000, consumers can use ‘tap and go’ technology more conveniently than fumbling for notes and coins.

“PINs, signatures and receipts are all a thing of the past for small ticket purchases below $35 or contactless payments up to $100.”

Stollmann said the revolution in how Australians pay for things is accelerating. Australians have used their credit and debit cards 5.1 billion times in the last 12 months.

For retailers like fast food restaurants, petrol stations, convenience stores, pharmacies, and others it makes good business sense: the faster the payment at checkout, the shorter the queues and the less purchase abandonment.

A wave of new players are rethinking and integrating the shopping and payment experience in new ways. Vend, Kounta, Revel, Lightspeed, Lavu and others have built portable, cloud, and touchscreen based point of sale systems on iPad and tablets that offer a better customer experience and significant lower cost of ownership than the incumbent systems do. Stollmann says the stakes are high when such tectonic shifts occur.

“We expect the number of electronic payments to grow strongly as cloud-based technology advances and the new smart phones and devices become more popular.”

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