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Cashless debate: 'Vote' to keep access to cash as Aussies face 'big problem'

People passionate about keeping cash in circulation have organised a protest to prove it’s a 'use it or lose it' situation.

A date has been set for Aussies to protest against the cashless trend sweeping across the country. Social media has been flooded with posts calling for people to prove it’s a “use it or lose it” situation when it comes to cash in Australia.

Banks have been slowly winding down their branch numbers because people predominantly perform their banking and payment needs online. This has raised concerns about whether cash will be available in the future as it is now.

There are also fresh worries about cash transport company Armaguard as it faces insolvency, which could have a huge impact on the availability of cash around Australia.

Aussie pulling cash out of ATM next to person using card to pay
Aussies passionate about keeping cash in circulation are being urged to pull out money on April 2. (Source: Getty)

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Dubbed ‘Draw Out Some Cash Day’, people have been urged to head to ATMs and banks around Australia on Tuesday, April 2 in the hope it will convince financial institutions that cash is here to stay.

"If everyone did this it would draw thousands of $$$ out into the community and banks will be running around to refill ATMs,” said one post on social media. "We want this to go nationwide. Tell your friends. Never let cash vanish."

Pro-cash advocate Jason Bryce told Yahoo Finance it was good to see Aussies coming together for a worthy cause.

“I don't know who started it, but I'm backing it 100 per cent and promoting the idea that Tuesday is cash-out day and, you know, use it or lose it,” he said. “Let's keep cash alive.

“It's like a vote. It's almost like we're voting to keep cash on Tuesday.”

Armaguard’s future will have a big impact on cash availability

Bryce said he was extremely concerned about the future if Armaguard wasn’t able to deliver cash around Australia. He said the company transported 90 per cent of the country’s physical money.

“There's a few stories around about towns that have been left with no cash because they've got one or two ATMs, and they’ve both got ‘out of order’ signs or messages displayed on their screen,” he explained to Yahoo Finance.

“It's becoming a big, big problem in the bush. A lot of towns have already lost their bank-owned ATMs and they're just relying on the private-company ATMs that charge you $2 or $3. And even those ATMs rely on Armagard.”

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The Reserve Bank (RBA), the four big banks (ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and NAB), supermarkets, Australia Post and retailer Wesfarmers have been working with Armaguard to find a solution to its cash-flow problems, and even proposed a $26 million rescue package.

However, Armaguard has rejected the offer.

"Armaguard confirms it is working constructively with all its customers, including its retail customers, banks and other key stakeholders, regarding both short-term and long-term financial solutions for the industry to remain sustainable," Armaguard Group chief executive Mick Cronin said in a statement.

"Armaguard continues to operate its full suite of services and is confident that over the coming months, it will get the business onto a long-term sustainable footing with appropriate support from the industry."

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has been in discussions with Armaguard about its future.

“Cash-in-transit workers do an important job, but it is a dangerous job," TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

"Armed hold-ups and deaths in the line of duty are known in this industry. It’s critical for the safety and well-being of these transport workers that this is resolved quickly with a view to the future.

“With the public holiday approaching, workers need certainty and peace of mind."

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What you need to know about the use of cash in Australia

  • Fewer people are using cash due to the convenience of paying with phones, watches and cards.

  • There isn’t a shortage of cash-withdrawal points, with around 20,000 ATMs plus supermarkets to collect from.

  • There’s about $100 billion in cash floating around Australia - or 2 billion notes

  • The government has not indicated cash will be taken out of circulation

  • The Big Four banks have all ruled out going cashless.

  • Average cash withdrawal has increased from $180 to $290.

  • RBA: ATM withdrawals dropped from 77.9 million in December 2008 to 29.7 million in June 2023.

  • Finder survey: 13 per cent of Aussies never use cash, 44 per cent use it once a week, and 42 per cent once a month or less.