A major bank has made the shock decision to scrap cash in all of its branches across Australia, in what could be another step towards a cashless society.
Macquarie Bank has announced it will phase cash out across their branches in 2024, and by November of the same year, the bank won’t accept cash anywhere.
“Between January 2024 and November 2024, we’ll be phasing out our cash and cheque services across all Macquarie banking and wealth management products, including pension and super accounts,” the bank said in a statement to clients.
As well as scrapping over-the-counter cash transactions, Macquarie will also stop accepting payments via telephone banking from May next year.
The move means customers wishing to withdraw or deposit cash will only be able to do so via an ATM.
Macquarie Bank defended its decision, saying the vast majority of its customers already banked digitally and only around 1% used cash or cheques.
“As a digital bank, we’re committed to transitioning to completely digital payments by November 2024 as a safer, faster and convenient way to bank,” a Macquarie Bank spokesperson told NCA NewsWire.
“The majority of our customers already bank digitally and we’re working very closely to support the less than 1% of our customers who currently use cheques or cash to ensure they have access to other digital payment methods.”
Despite the bank’s reassurances, there were fears about what the growing trend towards digital-only transactions would mean, particularly for older and regional Australians.
“Some of these regional communities in particular have challenges around internet access,” Chief Operating Officer of National Seniors Australia Chris Grice told 9News in July.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen in terms of educating and informing senior Australians in terms of being able to operate using their smartphones and these apps,” he added.
Earlier this year, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ decided to stop handling cash in a few branches, but the move by Macquarie to almost entirely phase out cash is unprecedented.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers also announced in June that cheques would be entirely phased out in Australia by 2030.
Angry customers took to social media to vent their fury at the move.
“This is ridiculous. What if a child gets cash for their birthday and wants to deposit it,” one person wrote on Facebook.
“I am a cash user. What right has the banks to tell me how to access & use my own money. This is not modernising, it’s control & dictatorship,” another person fumed.
Some were not so worried, dismissing fears of a cashless society as the work of “conspiracy theorists”.
“No big drama. I’m glad to use digital currency,” one advocate of the change said.
Originally published as Macquarie Bank announces shock move to scrap cash in all branches