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This shopping centre fixture could soon be phased out

People cross a busy street at Sydney's Pitt Street mall.
As we head further into the digital age this common shopping centre item could well be phased out (Source: Getty)

Aussies continue to choose modern technology over traditional banking methods and it could spell the end of ATMs.

There has been a continued steady decline of cash and credit cards, while ATM withdrawals decreased by 20 per cent in the year to August 2021, after falling 16 per cent the year before, according to recent Reserve Bank of Australia data.

“As we have seen more people go away from using branches, it’s no surprise to see banks invest in areas where customers prefer to bank, such as in their online platforms and apps," Australian Banking Association (ABA) CEO Anna Bligh said.

The trend is here to stay

Bligh said COVID-19 had influenced banking choices for Australians and she believed the changes were here to stay.


“COVID-19 accelerated trends in our society and changed the way we live our lives,” she said.

“Working from home will forever be more prominent within the workforce, we have steered away from using cash and, as a result, are seeing an increase in card and technology payments, and the existing trend of doing banking online instead of in a branch has only continued.”

Bligh said it was no surprise banks would invest in areas like building digital wallets and apps because that was what their customers preferred.

“Interestingly, one major Australian bank reported digital banking is now the primary channel for its customers aged between 16 and 69, with digital interactions up 10 per cent since 2019,” she said.

While customers move away from traditional banking methods, banks continue to provide face-to-face banking options with thousands of branches across Australia.

Branch closures

Many of the country’s financial institutions have been shutting down branches in the past couple of years due to lack of demand.

Data from the Finance Sector Union (FSU) said there had been more than 290 permanent shutdowns completed, or still in the works, since early 2020 when physical distancing measures were introduced.

FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano said the number of branch closures was growing at its fastest rate since the early 2000s.

“It’s a real blow to the forgotten Australians,” she said.

“Not everybody can move to digital banking – people with disabilities, those with low levels of digital literacy, and those with English as a second language or limited access to transport.”

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