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Cash liquidation. Has Australia signed the bill and will “withdraw cash”? That's not the point

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“Another conspiracy theory has become a fact” – warn Internet users, commenting on a popular post that Australia has adopted a law causing cash to be withdrawn from circulation in this country. However, the fears are unfounded, because the information about Australia is fake news. Although cash is becoming less and less popular in this country.

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The topic of alleged plans to eliminate cash – mainly at the request of the European Union – is one of those raised during the European Parliament election campaign. But it had already been discussed, even if it did not concern EU countries. Any information related to this – even false information – electrifies social media. At Konkret24 we verified for example, the message that in Nigeria the government has banned the use of cash. In the 2023 parliamentary campaign, the topic of cash was taken up by Law and Justice (PiS) on its banners – Jaroslaw Kaczynski he promised voters that his party “will defend cash like independence.” According to polls recently published by the media, 69 percent surveyed Poles are not willing to give up using cash (SW Research for “Wprost”).

READ ON KONKRET24: Confederation: “a ban on paying in cash is coming.” It's not coming

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One of the posts published on May 19 on the X platform devoted to this topic also generated a lot of interest. Even though it did not concern the European Union. “Australia is almost there, it has just signed the Digital ID Act and the country will withdraw cash,” said the author of the anonymous account. “Time for Europe?” – added. Attached to the entry video, in which an Australian guest on a news program talks about how she went to a bank branch where she couldn't withdraw cash. The post with this recording has almost 65,000 views. views.

Manipulative post about “cash withdrawal” in Australiax.com

Most commenters were critical of the alleged imminent phase-out of cash in Australia. “Commune 2.0 we are just observing the collapse of the West”; “Australia and Canada are already gone”; “Boom And it happened. Another conspiracy theory has become a fact. We'll see when a civil war breaks out there”; “What about the Australians?”; “I can't believe that people give their consent to this”; “But why don't people deal with this bandit?” – they reacted (original spelling of posts).

However, the Digital ID Act adopted in Australia does not mean the withdrawal of cash. The country's government and central bank have also not announced such a change. Only some Australian banks are phasing out cash transactions at their branches.

As for the question: “what do Australians think about it?” – it is a reaction to the decreasing number of operations carried out by Australians in cash. We explain.

The bill passed, but it does not apply to cash

First of all, the Polish post about the bill and “cash withdrawal” is an inaccurate translation of the English entry, which was viewed by over 400,000. users. The original reported that Australia had adopted the “Digital ID Act” and “The Country is phasing out cash”. In this sense, the adoption of the law and the withdrawal of cash were described as two independent processes. The Polish translation suggests that the alleged “withdrawal of cash” is the result of signing the act. And this is not true.

The Australian Parliament will indeed be held on May 16, 2024 accepted the Digital ID Bill. It will make it possible for Australians to set up their digital ID card and use it to confirm their identity to access government services and deal with matters on government websites. In this sense, this tool can be compared to the Polish mObywatel service. Another similarity with the Polish application is the fact that the digital ID card will not be used for banking purposes – and therefore has nothing to do with cash or its alleged withdrawal.

Bank branches with cash only in ATMs

The recording attached to the entry is more related to the topic of cash. It is from June 2023. The woman visible in it – Taryn Compton living in the Australian state of Queensland – recorded then video on TikTokwhere she told her story about visiting a branch of ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Bank).

When she went there to withdraw cash, she realized she had forgotten her credit card, so she asked the employee to withdraw the money directly. He informed her that it was only possible at an ATM because the bank had no longer allowed cash withdrawals in his branch. The employee even obtained a temporary card for the woman so that she could withdraw cash from an ATM, but for unknown reasons this was also not possible. So, in protest, the woman transferred all her money to another bank where withdrawals were possible – and then recorded a video in which she criticized ANZ Bank, calling it “cashless”.

The bank, however he commented to the case, denying information about his “cashlessness”. The spokesman explained that some bank branches no longer accept cash and check transactions, but they can still be made using ATMs available at such branches. Moreover, this situation only applies to branches located in the largest cities, so that people in smaller towns – where there are fewer branches – still have the opportunity to withdraw cash in branches. Above all, he gave the reason for the bank's decision: “At ANZ we have seen a 50 per cent decline in branch transactions over the last five years, with only one per cent of transactions now taking place over the counter and 96 per cent being carried out digitally.”

“Almost 99 percent of transactions between customers and banks take place digitally”

The trend reported by the bank's spokesman is typical of Australia as a whole. News.com.au website he gavethat in the 2022-2023 financial year in Australia, 424 bank branches were closed and 718 ATMs were liquidated. This means that compared to 2017, 37% of companies operate in this country. fewer bank branches and 60 percent fewer ATMs.

The reasons given by banks are the same as in the case of the above-mentioned ANZ: Australians are less and less likely to use stationary bank branches, especially to withdraw cash, so maintaining them is becoming unprofitable. They confirm it data published by the Australian Central Bank: in 2022, cash was used only 13%. all transactions in Australia, while in 2007 it was 70 percent. As for the transactions between customers and banks, according to the Australian Banking Association (ABA), almost 99 percent this type of interaction is now done digitally.

Banks “have ruled out giving up cashless payments”

The Queensland government published its own in April 2024 internal report entitled “The future is cashless”, which highlighted, among others, the role of the COVID-19 pandemic in the mass transition to electronic banking. “COVID-19, combined with changing consumer preferences and decreasing availability of cash, has accelerated the transition to a cashless society, probably by 2030 or even earlier,” the report reads. The professor quoted therein Angel Zhong from RMIT University in Melbourne believes the move towards a cashless society in Australia is “already well underway and inevitable”. It is estimated that this will happen by 2030. At the same time, he called for the government to introduce regulations on digital payment services to help with this transformation.

However, the state government seems to recognize the potential dangers. In his report, he wrote that while banks “cite a combination of declining foot traffic, reduced in-branch transactions and increased demand for online banking services as the reason for the closures,” local community leaders expressed concern about the impact of such closures. cash-dependent businesses, community organizations, socially disadvantaged people and older residents who are concerned about online banking. That's why Queensland governments said that “while using cash may remain an option, investment in digital infrastructure and literacy is needed to ensure financial access for digitally excluded populations, especially in rural areas.” Against the backdrop of emerging concerns about the security of customer data, it said “payments regulation that addresses the risks posed by new digital payment services is also needed to give Australians confidence that their funds and personal data are protected.”

At the same time – as News.com.au writes – the largest Australian banks Westpac, ANZ, CommBank and NAB “have ruled out giving up cashless payments”.

To sum up: Australia has not introduced a law phasing out cash. Indeed, some Australian banks are withdrawing the possibility of concluding cash transactions in branches, but it is still possible at ATMs, and the banks themselves exclude the possibility of completely abandoning cashless payments. These decisions result from the growing tendency of the country's citizens to use digital cashless banking.

Main photo source: Shutterstock/X

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