‘Cash can’t crash’: Why a cashless future appears unlikely

Jun 17, 2024
Is cash headed for extinction? Despite the rise of credit cards and digital wallets, experts argue that physical currency isn't going away anytime soon. Source: Joel Carrett/ AAP PHOTOS.

With the increasing use of credit cards and digital wallets over traditional cash payments, there are growing concerns that physical currency will one day become obsolete.

Despite research and the opinions of numerous experts suggesting a future without cash, Swinburne University business professor Steve Worthington argues otherwise.

“I don’t see cash withering away within the next couple of decades,” he told AAP.

Cash was used in only 13 per cent of all payments in Australia in 2022, according to RBA data, which “partly reflects the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s payment behaviour”.

Despite the increasing popularity of digital payments, Worthington believes it will be a long time before Australians lose the ability to use notes and coins given the ease of accessibility cash has during emergencies or tech outages.

“Cash can’t crash,” he said.

“When the telecoms break down or the IT systems of the banks break down, you’re left high and dry.

“One of the downsides of going totally cashless is that we just leave ourselves wide open to more and more scams and fraud.”

Despite Worthington’s reassurances, experts warn that a move to a predominately cashless society is “well underway” with RMIT associate professor in finance, Dr. Angel Zhong claiming we could be doing away with cash by the end of the decade.

“The shift towards a cashless society in Australia isn’t just a possibility, it’s already well underway,” Zhong explained in a piece for The Conversation.

“The convenience of digital transactions has become irresistible for consumers and businesses and has led to the sector eclipsing traditional payment methods.”

While the idea might raise concerns among some, Zhong shares a similar view to Worthington, reassuring the public that despite the digital wave, cash is not on the verge of vanishing entirely from our pockets.

“It doesn’t mean that there’s no bank notes at all. No one should be panicking that your banknotes will no longer carry value,” she told Nine News.

“If you look at the statistics about banknotes in circulation, it actually remains at around 20 per cent, according to the report, over the years.

“The meaning of cashless society is more about the way that we transact, it adds to the convenience of our day-to-day lives.

“There is always a place for cash but the majority will be making payments with digital wallets.”

-with AAP.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up