Australia could soon become a cashless society, with a staggering number of bank branches closing within just a year, while hundreds of ATMs would also be removed.
In the year to June, 424 bank branches closed, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority revealed on Wednesday.
The number of agencies has fallen by more than a third, or 37 percent, since June 2017.
Figures from the banking regulator also showed the mass removal of ATMs, with their numbers falling by 60 percent in just six years.
In the past year alone, 718 vending machines have been removed, and fewer than one in six transactions in the store are now done with cash.
Australia could soon become a cashless society with a staggering number of bank branches closing in just a year – while hundreds of ATMs have also been removed (pictured is a digital tap-and-go reader)
Financial expert Sarah Wells, formerly of Daily Mail Australia, could make the country cashless in just three years.
Remote areas of Australia have also seen a sharp decline in the number of bank branches, with 124 closures in six years.
Since 2017, 1,600 bank branches have been closed across Australia.
The latest findings illustrate Australia’s rapid transition to a cashless society since the start of the Covid pandemic, with cash accounting for just 16% of in-person transactions in 2022, a halving in just three years, according to Reserve Bank data.
Financial expert Sarah Wells told Daily Mail Australia the country could become cashless in just three years.
She feared those in regional areas, the elderly and even children would lose out.
“I think it’s best for kids to use cash,” Ms Wells said.
“Giving a child $20 and taking them to a mall or movie helps them learn to budget and make decisions more carefully.
“There is a responsibility to giving money and social interaction that is so valuable that they learn to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and look people in the eye.”
The Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and NAB have all opened cashless branches where customers are directed to ATMs for their “everyday banking”.
Westpac has embarked on a “co-location” strategy involving closing the St George branches and moving them into a Westpac bank.
The Reserve Bank, which regulates Australia’s payments system, is concerned about cybersecurity.
“Privacy and security concerns with electronic payment methods continue to be the primary reason for the need for cash,” he noted in a June newsletter.
Commonwealth 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.
The survey found that more than 90 percent of the big four banks’ customers transacted digitally or online.
“We need to stop thinking too much about ourselves and our own convenience and start thinking a little more about others,” Ms Wells said.
In the past year alone, 718 ATMs have been removed, and fewer than one in five in-store transactions are now made in cash (pictured are Commonwealth Bank ATMs in Sydney).