Cheque use continues to fall in Australia

Sally McMullen 30 November 2016

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Australians slowly say goodbye to cheques and cash as non-cash payments take over.

In news that probably surprises no one, Australians have almost completely abandoned the use of cheques. According to the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA), cheque use has dropped by a whopping 73% over the last decade, with 2016 seeing the largest yearly decline in that 10-year period. Data from the APCA's Milestone report illustrated this decline through the amount Aussies were spending on cheques each year.

In 2014, the money spent with cheques fell by 13.5% and dropped a further 15.7% in 2015. With Australians only spending $126.4 million in cheques this year, 2016 has seen cheque use drop by 17.2%. This means that cheques now only account for 1.2% of all payments in Australia.

This decline has occurred in parallel with the rise of digital and card payments. According to the report, both direct debit and credit spending have climbed 7.2% to $3.3 billion and card usage has shot up 12.1% to $7 billion. The convenience of contactless payments could be attributed to this increased use of cards, with Australians leading the global tap and go trend.

According to a survey conducted by RFi Group in 2015-16, almost two-thirds of Australians had made a purchase with a contactless card. With the launch of mobile contactless payment processes such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay in Australia over the last year, these digital transaction numbers are only predicted to grow.

Naturally, the use of cash has also fallen with the rise of contactless and card payments. Data from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) showed that while we withdrew $14.8 billion in cash in 2008, this number had fallen to $11.6 billion by March 2016. According to the APCA, the total value of ATM withdrawals has dropped by 2.4% this year, with the use of ATMs falling by 4.9% and 6.6% in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

So, while it's unlikely that cash or cheques will disappear in the near future, there's no denying that digital payments are quickly becoming the norm in Australia.

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