CV NEWS FEED // Major Australian banks aren’t allowing customers to withdraw cash at city branches due to the new “cashless” movement, leading to financial problems for Australians.
Four major Australian banks—Commonwealth, ANZ, Westpac, and National Australian Bank—began removing the option for cash withdrawal at their city branches last month. Since then, more banks are hopping on the cashless trend.
Sky News Australia reported on July 24 that “more than one billion dollars worth of notes have disappeared from circulation in the past 12 months.”
Experts are also looking at China’s push for cashless currency, pointing out that going digital can provide the government with heightened powers of surveillance and enforcement over citizens’ financial habits and spending.
Dr. Richard Holden, a professor of economics, told SBS News that China’s social credit system raises concerns about going completely cashless. Social credit rates a citizen’s trustworthiness and allows the government to investigate financial transactions to minimize crime, but also relies on digital surveillance and a lack of privacy. According to Business Insider, a low social credit score can result in punishments varying from slower internet speed to travel bans.
Regardless of the implications of only using digital payments, Holden didn’t think that the same privacy issues happening in China would occur in Australia as well.
“I think we’re pretty good in Australia at making sure the administrative agencies aren’t able to misuse our private information,” he said.
Daily Mail Australia reported that electronic payments are heavily relied on by younger generations, who grew up in an era of credit cards and Apple Pay. But removing access to cash also impacts the elderly or disabled, who may rely on cash over credit cards and smartphone-based payments.
For bank customers who can still withdraw cash at a few ATMs, there is a $500 daily limit. Other customers aren’t as fortunate and have their money stuck inside a bank with no way to withdraw it, as one frustrated customer, Taryn Comptyn, reported.
Comptyn documented her experience on TikTok, explaining that she went to ANZ Bank to withdraw $3.5K but was told that the bank no longer had cash available. When she tried an ATM, she still couldn’t access her money.
Comptyn said that her only option was to transfer all of her funds to a different bank that still allowed cash withdrawals.
According to Sky News Australia, economists say that paying electronically hinders criminals on the black market since digital payments can be traced, unlike cash transactions. But digital payments can also easily lead to cyber attacks and elaborate online scams.
Cyber security expert Ben Britton told Daily Mail Australia that a cashless society leads to vulnerability and reliance on technology.
“If there’s no internet, there’s no transactions, there’s no access to your money,” he said. “But if you have your money in your hand, or in your pocket, there could be no electricity and you’ll still be able to make payments to people.”After the Commonwealth Bank app crashed in July and left customers paralyzed and unable to make payments, critics are pointing to the incident as an example of what could happen to all Australian citizens. If anything happens to the banking system, even a small internet disruption, customers throughout the country won’t have access to their own money.