2023: The Fight Against a Cashless Society Intensifies

Monday, December 18, 2023

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by Sandra Smith

2023 has been a significant year in the fight against a cashless society. We have an increased recognition by members of the public, businesses and government that removing cash results in significant costs to the accessibility, security, and reliability of our payment system. This was most recently demonstrated in the mass Optus outage, estimated to cost the economy billions of dollars.

This message is also not forgotten by the RBA. This month, the Reserve Bank Governor Michelle Bullock said:

Cash remains an important means of payment for some people and is widely held for precautionary or store-of-wealth purposes. Cash is also an important backup method of payment during system outages or natural disasters, when electronic payments might be unavailable.

For these reasons, the RBA places a high priority on the community continuing to have reasonable access to cash withdrawal and deposit services. The Government also highlighted the importance of maintaining adequate access to cash services as a key priority in its Strategic Plan for the Payments System”.

ATMIA has consistently been at the forefront of advancing the cause of cash. This year, we have made submissions to numerous Government inquiries and calls for submissions, including:

  • April - submission to the Senate inquiry into Bank Closures in Regional Australia – the final report will be released in May 2024.
  • September - two submissions to the Treasury review of Australia’s Payment System and
  • November - submission to the Senate inquiry into the Optus Network outage.

We have also been working with the Cash Welcome Group to expand the number of signatures on our petition to secure the right to access and use cash, and at the time of writing, there were over 155,000 signatories to the petition. We have contacted major businesses to inform them of the importance of maintaining payment choices, writing to over 15 major companies, including KFC, Coles, Woolworths, Hungry Jacks, Myers, Bunnings, and McDonalds…. To name a few.

ATMIA is committed to providing value to its members. In addition to our advocacy work above, we have supported the Australian industry through our Strategic Direction Committee, where we have focused on emerging security threats. We have worked closely with the Australian Federal Police to share issues relating to organised crime activity and tactics with the industry. The AFP has also agreed to join ATMIA’s Security Association.  ATMIA looks forward to continuing to build on our relationship with the law enforcement sector in 2024.

Earlier this month, ATMIA held its final 2023 Strategic Direction Committee teleconference.  These forums have proven to be successful, as they provide an opportunity for industry stakeholders to discuss relevant industry issues openly. ATMIA can then review and address these issues in the future.

A key message from this forum is the need for advocacy work in 2024. ATMIA will continue to collaborate with our members on this issue. To read the Strategic Direction minutes, click here.

I appreciate your support in 2023. We value the opportunity to serve ATMIA members and look forward to continuing to do so in the coming year.

Wishing you all a safe and enjoyable time during the festive season.

Sandra Smith

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