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Banknote Aussies are most likely to lose - and surprising reason cash is vanishing

Cash transactions are in decline, but there's a reason money is vanishing.

The use of cash is in decline across Australia, but which banknote is the hardest to hold on to?

A new report from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) indicates $5 and $10 notes are the most likely to go missing. You might think, "well yes, they are worth less". However, higher value notes like $50 and $100 are the next most frequently lost.

This makes $20 notes the most resilient. There is another explanation for higher value notes missing and that's money hoarding.

bank notes ranging from $50, $20, $10, $5.
Banknotes vanishing and there's a couple reasons why. (Source: Canva)

Australians are increasingly stashing cash, with the RBA estimating between $56 billion and $81 billion hidden away in households. That accounts for about 55 to 80 per cent of physical bills. In comparison, between 9 and 26 per cent was used for physical transactions.


“This share has grown since the onset of the pandemic by around 5 percentage points, which indicates that much of the increase in banknote demand over this period was for hoarding purposes,” the RBA report states.

A rise in mobile technology, like Apple Pay, has accelerated a transition to cashless transactions, with mobile payments "particularly pronounced" for purchases below $50.

People are often told to check their pocket change for "rare coins" in circulation, but it doesn't appear to interest most Aussies, who are opting to use cash for "round value transactions where change or coins are less likely to be needed".

“The shift away from cash for lower-value payments reflects increased adoption of contactless electronic payments during and following the pandemic," the report said.

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