According to Roland Bleyer, COVID-19 may bring about the end of cash in Australia for many people.
Roland is the founder of Creditcard.com.au, Australia's largest independent credit card comparison site.
Roland believes COVID-19 could see the death of cash in Australia for a number of reasons:
- cash carries germs and it will take a while for the fear of COVID-19 to diminish even once things open back up again
- new habits and behaviour will form prompting people to only use cards as the new norm moving forward
- businesses prefer cashless payment as it means less petty theft at the cash register
- the ATO prefers traceable business records
- cashless payments are easier and faster for both businesses and customers
- businesses will stop accepting cash - fullstop
"Over the past month or so, there has been a definite shift in the way we pay for things, with merchants moving away from cash – and the germs it may carry – declaring their preference for card payments instead.
"While Australia is not new to the idea of choosing cards over cash, as coronavirus continues to assert its influence over what we can and can’t do, Aussies are being encouraged to use contactless more than ever as a way to slow the spread.
"Shops, cafes and other retail outlets that remain open seem to be thinking along the same lines, moving to cashless payment methods to protect both their employees and their customers. And while the WHO may not be offering official advice on the subject, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association is. According to the association’s National Secretary, Gerard Dwyer, “cash is a carrier”.
"Which is why, when out and about, you may have noticed signs in stores advising you that either cash is no longer accepted, or that contactless payment is preferred. For those employees who do have to handle cash, many are now wearing gloves. According to a spokesperson for McDonald's, the chain went one step further, training their employees how to give and take cash from customers in a way that minimised contact.
"I think we will see more and more businesses refusing to accept cash. This is going to impact on certain areas of society, the aged sector and those less fortunate - more than others.
"It's worth noting that the idea of merchants not accepting cash is actually legal. For many Aussies, especially those of the older generation, cash is still king. They like having cash, they like using cash, and they don’t particularly like the idea of having to use anything but cash when cash is still ‘legal tender’.
"It seems there is a widespread belief that because official Australian coins and banknotes are legal tender, merchants must accept them as payment. However, the law sees it somewhat differently. According to the Currency Act, merchants have certain rights when it comes to accepting payments. A merchant may limit the dollar amount in coins a customer may use to make a purchase, for example, to $5 worth of silver coins, or $20 worth of gold coins.
"As for not accepting cash at all, again the law is on the merchant’s side. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, merchants are 'at liberty to set the commercial terms upon which payment will take place' before the purchase, and refusal to accept payment in legal tender banknotes and coins is not unlawful. So, as long as the merchant has a sign at the counter that lays out these terms, which is visible to customers before the point of purchase, it is within its rights not to accept cash."
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