Cash system redesign essential to support changing usage

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua says its latest survey underscores the need for deliberate changes to the cash system to keep it resilient and efficient while needed and wanted by New Zealanders.

Read the Summary Report: 2021 Cash Use Survey

Nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders were using cash to pay for everyday things when surveyed late last year (2021), compared with nearly all of us in both 2017 and 2019.

“While the proportion of New Zealanders who appear to rely on cash remains steady at six percent, over the last six years there’s been a significant drop in those of us who sometimes pay with cash, from 96 to 63 percent of those surveyed,” says Head of Money and Cash Ian Woolford. “As in previous years, these people are more likely to be older, poorer, living rurally, or Māori.

“Meanwhile, it is clear that having some cash stored away is increasingly important for many of us during times of uncertainty with the percentage of us doing so rising from 37 to 46 percent from 2017 to 2021.

“Our latest survey suggests cash users are finding it more difficult to find places to deposit cash, while ATMs and supermarkets are the main source of withdrawals,” says Mr Woolford.

“Having cash available, accepted in store, and readily deposited are key to both well-functioning local economies and communities where everyone is included. Closing bank branches, fewer ATMs, and reduced or removed cash services offered by banks contribute to falling use and difficulties.

“We are currently consulting on ways to improve the cash system and support cash use and acceptance. We encourage people to review our Cash System Redesign consultation paper, and will welcome all points of view. The consultation paper was published last November and closes for submissions next Monday, 7 March 2022,” says Mr Woolford.

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