Cash is still king for older Australians

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Australian consumers are shifting to card-based payments, but those aged over 65 still like to carry plenty of cash around.

That’s one of the conclusions to be drawn from a research report released today by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

It turns out that younger Aussies start the week with an average of about $20 in their pocket, while for those aged 65 and over it’s almost 5 times that amount.

Quite the difference:


The average of $95 cash that older generations hold on their person is also more than double the amount held by the next closest 50-64 age group.

The RBA’s report is prepared every three years, and the latest version is titled “How Australians Pay: Evidence from the 2016 Consumer Payments Survey”.

The most recent survey was in November 2016. Analysts Mary-Alice Doyle, Chay Fisher, Ed Tellez and Anirudh Yadav revealed some unique insights into the way Australians pay for transactions.

The broader theme revealed by the survey was that Australians are steadily shifting towards a preference for card-based transactions.

The survey results showed that in 2016, the volume of transactions for card-cased payments exceeded cash transactions for the first time.

“Consistent with the decline in transactional use of cash, the median value of cash held in consumers’ wallets or on their person fell to $40, from $55 in 2013,” the analysts said.

Despite that, there was an even wider discrepancy in cash-holding habits between older and younger generations this time around.

The table below shows the steady decline in the volume of cash transactions since 2007:

Source: RBA