Australia is rapidly abandoning physical currency and predicted to become a “cashless society” within a few years, according to experts.
Since 2019, banks have removed 3,800 ATMs across the country, representing over one-third of Australia’s cash machines, news.com.au reported. The top four Australian banks, meanwhile, have permanently shuttered 459 branches.
In New South Wales, over 200 suburbs have no way to obtain cash in their area, according to news.com.au, and 300 lack a bank store.
Digital transactions already predominate in Australia, where fewer than 25 percent of transactions involve physical money and 80 percent of residents prefer virtual banking.
The shift to digital, experts said, will leave the country effectively cashless by 2031 or earlier.
Professor Robert Breunig of Australia National University told news.com.au last fall that COVID-19 sped up the move to online banking, which will help authorities monitor and tax payments more easily. “People often avoid tax by doing cash type jobs and if there is no cash under the table, then it’ll be easier to actually follow transactions,” Breunig said.
In a survey of experts conducted by Finder last year, 89 percent said they believed that COVID has hastened the demise of cash. Fifty-six percent said that physical currency would likely disappear in Australia within 10 years, though that could as early as 2024, according to some estimates.