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71% of Australians Concerned About Shift to Cashless, 42% Expect ‘Cash Nostalgia’, Finds Waave

Waave, the online payment app, has unveiled the first instalment of its ‘Cashless Future 2024’ report, highlighting a trust gap that Australia’s financial services industry must fill before consumers embrace a fully digital economy.

As cheques are gradually phased out, bank branches disappear, and the use of and access to cash declines, Waave reveals that 71 per cent of Australians are concerned about society going cashless.

Research conducted by YouGov in February 2024 revealed that 63 per cent of Australians believe that going cashless will exclude certain population groups and exacerbate economic inequality.

Fifty-eight per cent of Australians expressed concern that if Australia becomes a cashless society they will pay more in banking and card fees overall, and 42 per cent admit they don’t trust financial services to operate ethically in a cashless society. Another 29 per cent (equivalent to 5.7million Australians) don’t trust payment methods that are not exclusively between the customer and the merchant.

Ben Zyl, CEO and co-founder of Waave, discusses cashless concerns
Ben Zyl, CEO and co-founder of Waave

Ben Zyl, co-founder and CEO of Waave, discussed the levels of concern: “Australians are among the highest adopters of digital payments in the world, but they are rightly worried about who is really protecting their interests.

“The current digital payments system has not been built with consumer security or control in mind – people are getting their details stolen, fumbling around with passwords, and paying ridiculous card fees and surcharges. There’s a lot of fear, particularly among those who can’t access alternatives or aren’t confident using technology.

“We need to build trust, identity, and place consumers in the driver’s seat of their digital money. With open banking and account-to-account payments now entering the mainstream, it’s only a matter of time before increased market competition sets a new bar for digital payment experiences. Our goal is to reinstate that traditional cash handshake in digital form.”

Cash nostalgia? 

Interestingly, almost half of the Australians surveyed expect to experience ‘cash nostalgia’ if physical money is phased out, with 42 per cent admitting they will miss the opportunity to handle cash in hand if Australia becomes a cashless society.

Meanwhile, 34 per cent of Australians say they feel less in control over their spending when making payments in digital form. Women are most concerned about losing control of spending in digital form (39 per cent, compared to 30 per cent of men), while younger Gen Zs (34 per cent) are as much affected by this as Baby Boomers (35 per cent). The findings are consistent with emerging personal finance trends like #LoudBudgeting and #Cashstuffing which are becoming increasingly popular with younger users on social media.

“Whether you’re younger or older, the psychology around cash is unique. We like the feel of it, the sense of control, and we tend to spend less when we pay in cash,” Zyl explains.

“It’s up to governments, banks and retailers to move faster in adopting and promoting the latest technologies to create a cashless system for consumers that is fair, transparent and user-friendly for everyone.”

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