Customers strike back as major retailer phases out cash withdrawals

Dec 21, 2023
With an increasing number of banks shutting their doors and a surge in the popularity of digital transactions, one can't help but wonder: is this another blow to the use of cash in Australia? Source: Getty Images.

Australia appears to be inching closer to a cashless future after it was announced that popular convenience store 7-Eleven is phasing out cash withdrawals by removing ATMS from their stores nationwide.

The retailer announced that the decision was in response to changing consumer behaviours and that not all 750 stores across the country will be doing away with ATMs.

“As our offer evolves, some ranges and services are removed to provide room for new and high-demand offers,” a 7-Eleven spokesperson said.

“We are reducing our ATM footprint to respond to changing customer needs, although some stores will continue to provide ATM facilities.”

While this decision may align with the broader trend towards digital transactions, it has triggered a backlash from customers who rely on cash for various reasons.

With an increasing number of banks shutting their doors and a surge in the popularity of digital transactions, one can’t help but wonder: is this another blow to the use of cash in Australia?

Alarm bells rang earlier this year when Macquarie Bank announced plans to scrap cash transactions across all of its branches.

The fifth-largest bank in Australia recently revealed they will be dropping cash, cheque, and phone payment services from 2024 with payments to be conducted entirely digitally and all cash withdrawals to take place entirely at ATMs from November 2024.

“Between January 2024 and November 2024, we’ll be phasing out our cash and cheque services across all Macquarie banking and wealth management products, including pension and super accounts,” Macquarie Bank said in a statement.

“Customers can continue to withdraw cash from their transaction account via ATMs across Australia and overseas without fees. However, cash deposits and branch withdrawals will no longer be available.

“This means from November 2024 we’ll no longer offer cash or cheque services. Instead, you’ll be able to make payments digitally — a safer, quicker, and more convenient way to bank.”

The recent Optus outage that plunged millions of Optus customers into a communication abyss, rendering them incapable of making or receiving calls and disrupting the seamless flow of transactions also raised concerns about our move away from cash.

The outage underscored the growing dangers of relying heavily on interconnected systems as we embrace a digital-first approach. Businesses, consumers, and government agencies were caught off guard by the abrupt loss of connectivity, shedding light on the extent to which our lives are entwined with technology.

For Cash Welcome campaign coordinator Jason Bryce the outage served as a “big wake-up call” regarding the vulnerability of digital transactions while highlighting the need to preserve access to cash.

In addition, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) recently released its 2023 Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (ADIs) points of presence statistics. These figures provided an in-depth view of the physical banking service channels available to Australians, including branches, ATMs, and EFTPOS facilities.

The statistics showed a marked decline in the number of bank branches, with the closure of 424 branches across the nation, marking an 11 per cent reduction. What’s particularly concerning is the 7 per cent decrease in branches located in regional and remote areas, where banking services are already less accessible.

As 7-Eleven prepares to bid farewell to ATMs, the shift towards a cashless Australia prompts serious reflection.

Customer backlash and recent tech hiccups underline the importance of treading carefully when relying largely on digital transactions, keeping in mind the reliability of good old cash in an interconnected world.


Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up