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Cash & cheques decline in favour of digital payments

November 24, 2016

The Milestones Report released by the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA), the payments industry self-regulatory body, shows that the drop in cheque use in the 12 months to June 2016 is the greatest annual drop in the last decade.


The report shows that cheque use dropped by 17.2% to 126.4 million. This compares to a 15.7% drop in 2015 and 13.5% in 2014. Since 2006, cheque use has dropped 73%. Cheques now only account for about one percent (1.2%) of all non-cash retail payments.

Cash use also continues to drop steadily. The number of ATM withdrawals dropped by 6.6% to 675.8 million – also the greatest annual drop in the last decade – having dropped 4.9% in 2015 and 4.2% in 2014.


In contrast, the use of digital payments is growing strongly:

  • Direct entry transactions (direct debit and direct credit) grew by 7.2% to 3.3 billion.
  • Card payments (credit and debit cards) grew by 12.1% to 7.0 billion.

APCA CEO, Leila Fourie said “Australia is making great strides in moving away from paper payments – both cheques and cash. This is important from an efficiency view point, for customer convenience and for digital inclusion.”

Online payments are increasingly attractive to older Australians. Citing recent research, the Milestones Report notes that in 2015 more than half of internet users over the age of 65 made banking transactions online (53%) and just under a half (48%) had paid bills online.


The Report also highlights that:

  • Australia is reported second in the world for smartphone use, with 77% of Australians owning a smartphone.
  • 7.7 million Australian households have internet access – this represents 86% of all households, up from 83% last year.

“Australia is leading the way in digital payments with continued strong growth in card payments, impressive smartphone penetration and improved digital literacy. The industry’s New Payments Platform will provide a stimulus for yet more innovation,” said Dr Fourie.

The Milestones Report is available at www.apca.com.au and the NRA Members Portal.

The above infographics were prepared by the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA) for the purpose of reporting on the decline of cheques and the transition of the payments system towards the digital economy. Where totals do not add up, the difference is due to rounding. Sources: ABS, ACMA, APCA, BPAY, NAB, Pew Research Center, RBA – See APCA Milestones Report – November 2016.

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