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Aussies target ATMs in $1 billion cashless fight: 'Puts up prices'

People passionate about the use and availability of cash have announced a new protest day for this week.

Jackie standing outside her salon holding her dog next to person holding up wad of $50 notes
Jackie is standing alongside the Aussies planning to take cash out on June 14 to prove why physical money is still needed. (Source: Supplied/Facebook)

An Australian small business owner will refuse card payments on Friday as part of a fight against the rise of digital payments. June 14 marks the second time anti-cashless activists will flock to ATMs and banks around the country to pull out money in a bid to prove it's still needed.

Aussies passionate about the use of physical money staged a similar protest earlier this year and this time round, pet grooming salon owner Jackie van der Merwe is joining in her own way. She told Yahoo Finance all her customers have been told to bring cash on Friday.

"I just don't think that having a cashless society is the way we should be heading," the Cheeky Clips Grooming Salon owner explained.

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"Everything going through the banks just puts prices up. There's a surcharge for the client when they use a card and a surcharge for me. We all pay extra fees, and it just pushes costs higher.

She's not wrong. Research from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) found surcharges on everyday items like groceries, beer, petrol or take away, were costing us an additional $1 billion.

And in a cost-of-living crisis, many Australians need every dollar they can get.

Cash Out Day started as a grassroots social media campaign that spread like wildfire earlier this year.

Facebook was flooded with posts from people calling on Aussies to head to their nearest ATM or bank and withdraw some money. The move was designed to send a message to financial institutions that cash was still used and needed in Australia.

Judging from social media, it looked like there was a lot of support as photos and videos were uploaded showing lines of people standing at bank branches and people holding wads of cash.

But did it really make an impact?

Wad of Australian money next to people lining up outside Australian bank
People all over the country flocked to banks and ATMs to withdraw cash to send a message. (Source: Facebook)

“Across the industry, there was no material difference in withdrawals of cash [on April 2],” the Australian Banking Association told Yahoo Finance.

“Whilst Australians are using less and less cash, we are not going to be cashless. Australians don’t need to change their behaviour when it comes to withdrawing cash, it will continue to be available and accessible to those who wish to use it.”

But that hasn't deterred Aussies from organising another Cash Out Day for Friday, June 14.

"Already they're looking at fines for stores that don't allow cash. Choice is ours. Fight to keep cash alive," said one message circulating on Facebook.

Politicians Andrew Gee and Bob Katter recently introduced a bill hoping to force Aussie businesses to always accept and carry cash.

If legislated, businesses that provide goods and services in "face-to-face settings" that are based in a "premises, structure or vehicle" could face fines of between $5,000 and $25,000 if they don't let customers pay for items under $10,000.

The Keeping Cash Transactions in Australia Bill 2024 has been designed to hit back against the trend of ATMs and banks disappearing from rural and regional areas, as well as businesses that have decided to go cash free.

“Many people, across both my electorate of Calare and around our great country, hold concerns and fears that the use of cash for transactions in Australia is being phased out and will soon disappear,” Gee said.

“Shockingly, while the law provides that banknotes and coins are legal tender, there is currently no legal requirement for banknotes or coins to be accepted for transactions in Australia."

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