Australia’s shift towards cashless society increasing with Covid

Since Covid-19 first hit, a lot has changed, including the way we pay for products. Rafael Tavares, a busker from Sydney, discovered this the hard way.

Even before the extremely contagious Delta variety ravaged Greater Sydney, triggering a three-month lockdown, he noted that many of the people who came to see his outdoor performances no longer had cash on them (or even wallets).

Mr. Tavares, a former construction worker who goes by the stage name Rafa the Pianist, said, “There are days when we expect a lot, but we make very little.”

“And there are days when we don’t expect much, but we accomplish a great deal.”

Mr Tavares, who plays his electronic keyboard across Sydney’s CBD, began experimenting with numerous cashless payment methods in order to keep up with the newest trends.

His audience can now pay him using PayPal or make an instantaneous payment to his bank account using their mobile phones (by typing in his PayID or mobile number).

They can also scan a QR code to see his profile on “Busk,” a website dedicated to making electronic payments to buskers across the world.

“Eighty percent of [my] income is cash — coins and notes — and twenty percent is [from] a cashless payment,” Rafa the Pianist noticed after two months.

His earnings have decreased in recent months as well, although he feels this is due to lockdowns more than our shift away from cash.

Most indicators point to Australia being a cashless society, or at the very least one where cash is a “niche” payment method, in the future years.

We (collectively) withdrew more than $13.5 billion from ATMs per month in December 2008.

Since that time, the trend has been gradually deteriorating. When Covid worries reached a fever pitch in April 2020, ATM withdrawals fell by more than half to $6.2 billion.

According to Reserve Bank data analysed by the Australian Banking Association, it then rebounded to around $8.5 billion each month (still a 37 percent reduction over the previous decade).

In comparison, the number of credit and debit card purchases has increased dramatically over the last decade.

Consumers are increasingly embracing digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay to pay for their purchases. Every week, about seven out of ten smartphone users pay with digital wallets.

Consumers have also flocked to BNPL apps like Afterpay, Zip, and Openpay, which are akin to traditional lay-bys but allow you to take your purchases home right away.

Australian shops processed more than $9 billion in BNPL transactions in the previous financial year. That amount has tripled in the last two years, demonstrating its tremendous expansion.

Smartwatches that are linked to your debit or credit card are likewise getting more popular.

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