Australia’s Mobile Wallet Usage Skyrockets by 12,000% Due to Cash Shortage

Paper money use is reportedly waning in Australia amid troubles at its top cash supplier, Linfox Armaguard. Responsible for moving 90% of the country’s cash to banks, ATMs, and retailers, the company is struggling to stay afloat, Bloomberg News reported on June 2. This uncertainty has raised concerns that people and businesses may have to manage without physical currency.

“This is a significant moment for cash use in Australia and may push the nation towards becoming cashless,” Chris Vasantkumar, an anthropology lecturer at Macquarie University, told Bloomberg. “The current model of distributing cash from where it’s printed to where it’s used doesn’t seem sustainable.”

Australians are increasingly hoarding paper money, according to Reserve Bank of Australia data, to guard against payment-system outages and natural disasters. Concurrently, mobile wallet transactions in Australia surged to $63 billion AUD in 2022, up from $746 million AUD in 2018—a more than 12,000% increase, the report noted.

Recent research by PYMNTS Intelligence shows that consumers across various income levels and ages still prefer using cash and debit cards, likely to better manage their debt levels. “Paying for items with cash and debit cards reflects deeper concerns about financial stability,” PYMNTS wrote, noting that cash and debit card usage for groceries has risen 34% from last year among younger and lower-income consumers.

In the U.S., digital wallet usage is rising, particularly among younger generations. While 79% of Gen Z and 67% of millennials are avid digital wallet users, the numbers decline with age: 62% of Gen Xers and just 28% of baby boomers and seniors use digital wallets. Income also influences digital wallet adoption, with 55% of individuals earning $100,000 or more per year using digital wallets, compared to 41% of those earning $50,000 or less.

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