Our changing ATM habits show the slow decline of cash

Angus Kidman 31 May 2016

ATMsAustralia_Shutterstock

We hit "peak ATM" back in 2008. Who needs actual money any more?

When every financial institution offers contactless NFC payments on credit and debit cards and an increasing number also support paying through your smartphone, it's not surprising that we're pulling less cash out of automatic teller machines (ATMs) than we used to.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) tracks the total amount of money Australians pull from ATMs each month. In March 2016, that added up to $11.6 billion, which is a very long way from being small change. However, as you can see in the chart below, there has been a gradual decline in the total amount we withdraw each month in recent years.

We reached "peak ATM" back in December 2008, when $14.8 billion was withdrawn. (The Christmas season typically sees the highest figure for each calendar year, which is no surprise what with all that shopping and partying). Since then, there has been a notable decline in the amount we withdraw, despite the fact that inflation means the total amounts we'll need if we do want cash is likely to be higher.

I don't expect that we'll see physical currency disappear in my lifetime. Heck, the Reserve Bank has even announced plans for a new design for the $5 note, which will officially make it the world's ugliest currency. And we're still seeing ATMs pop up in some extremely remote locations.

Nonetheless, I'll be using less and less of it. On the first day of my Ultimate Opal Hack odyssey, I was forced to deploy actual money just once: buying a Coke Zero from a vending machine at Hamilton station. Even then, I only used coins because the NFC reader on the machine wasn't working.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

Picture: TK Kurikawa / Shutterstock.com

More great ideas from finder.com.au

Get a life insurance quote
Get a life insurance quote

Find out what it costs to protect yourself and your family

More info...
Refinancing home loans
Refinancing home loans

Choose from offers with rates as low as 3.39% p.a.

More info...
Google Pixel
Google Pixel

Compare plans for Google's flagship Android phone

More info...
Christmas ideas
Christmas ideas

Visit our Christmas homepage for gift ideas, markets, travel & deals

More info...

Ask a Question

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Disclaimer: At finder.com.au we provide factual information and general advice. Before you make any decision about a product read the Product Disclosure Statement and consider your own circumstances to decide whether it is appropriate for you.
Rates and fees mentioned in comments are correct at the time of publication.
By submitting this question you agree to the finder.com.au privacy policy, receive follow up emails related to finder.com.au and to create a user account where further replies to your questions will be sent.

Ask a question
feedback