Australians have criticized the country’s rapid move towards a cashless society, with the disastrous Optus outage forcing many people back to cash payments.
The telecommunications company has sent Australians scrambling following the nationwide technology outage on Wednesday, first reported around 4am.
At least 10 million users were unable to make or receive calls or text messages, with internet service down for more than nine hours.
This error left thousands of businesses across the county unable to operate their EFTPOS machines due to the power outage.
The crisis has forced customers to pay for services in cash, leading consumers to oppose measures to reduce ATMs and bank branches that prevent them from withdrawing money.
A TikTok user who goes by the name @giggles_in_the_dark has captured the sentiment of many Australians opposed to the accelerated transition to a cashless society.
The woman filmed a furious rant outside an IGA store which had displayed a sign reading “Cash Only… EFTPOS is down”, with the supermarket apologizing for the inconvenience caused following Wednesday’s outage.
“The fact that this crap is still happening and yet the Australian government is cutting banks and ATMs to make it even harder to withdraw money is such a f***ed up thing to do,” the woman said.
“Making society cashless, no, damn it, we need cash. »
Australians have criticized Australia’s move to become a cashless society and said Optus’ outage on Wednesday was proof the country should not make a quick move to go cashless.
The Optus outage on Wednesday forced thousands of businesses to return to cash payments after internet and mobile services were cut.
The user captioned the video with a terse warning that read “Give us back our ATMs and banks, let us be a payment company that controls us when you can’t control these problems.”
Thousands of viewers commented on the post and many agreed that cash was needed, even though most financial transactions are now done electronically.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) we proved to everyone that the world is screwed without cash when computer systems have problems. Hackers can fix the problem,” one user wrote.
“I believe cash is king… We all need to start using it again,” said another.
Others said the reduction in ATMs was the fault of banks.
“It’s not the government that’s doing away with banks and ATMs. It is the banks that make these decisions. But a cashless society? Yeah, great idea! »wrote one user.
Some said the move to cashless was only a matter of time and people would have to get used to it.
“(We) are going cashless, move forward or be left behind,” one person posted.
Australian Prudential Regulation Authority data from October revealed 424 bank branches were closed in the year to June.
The number of ATMs has also declined steadily in parts of Australia, with 124 bank branches closed in six years.
Since 2017, 1,600 bank branches have been closed across Australia.
Several business owners told Daily Mail Australia that Wednesday’s outage was a dire warning about the perils of a cashless society.
Peggy Zaromias, owner of Nick’s Handbags in Bankstown, western Sydney, said going completely cashless would choke the operations of many small family businesses.
“I’m old school. I still prefer cash, not just for business but for everything,” Ms. Zaromias said.
“When they turn around and say, ‘We’re going to go cashless,’ well, that’s ridiculous.
“If something like (the Optus crash) happens, then what?”
Thousands of bank branches have closed across the country as Australia rapidly moves towards a cashless society.
Peggy Zaromias, owner of Nick’s Handbags in Bankstown, western Sydney, told Daily Mail Australia the move to a cashless society would impact small and mom-and-pop businesses.
Independent payments market expert Lance Blockley has estimated that by 2025, traditional cash will account for less than 4% of total retail purchases nationwide.
The Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and NAB have all opened cashless branches where customers are directed to ATMs for their “everyday banking”.
Commenwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn told a Senate inquiry this year that it had cost the CBA $400 million to make liquidity available to its customers.
Optus has yet to provide a detailed explanation of the source of Wednesday’s outage, but has so far blamed the widespread outage on a technical problem.
The company announced that users on its postpaid mobile plans would receive 200GB of data following the outage, as a “reward” for their loyalty.
Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin earlier refused to consider compensating customers for the outage period after saying “reimbursing people for a day probably costs less than $2”.