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Anna Bligh interview on Sunrise about the future of cash

Anna Bligh interview on Sunrise about the future of cash

3 April 2024

Natalie Barr 

And to the cash emergency hitting our country. Emergency talks are being held this week, with our top banks preparing for a potential cash crash. It comes as Australia’s key money supplier Armaguard fights to stay afloat. Spearheaded by the Australian Banking Association, the banks are now pulling together a contingency plan to make sure enough cold, hard cash, remember that, remains in circulation and is available to those who need it. For more, we’re joined by Anna Bligh, the CEO of the Australian Banking Association. Good morning to you. Gee, we didn’t think we’d be in these times did we? What can you tell us about these contingencies being put in place?

Anna Bligh 

Well, first of all, I think it’s important to say to every Australian, there’s plenty of cash out there and Armaguard, as the company that transports the cash around, is fully operational. So no need for anyone to panic. But we are, as a country, using far less cash and it’s making it more difficult for companies like Armaguard to operate and be commercial. So, what banks have done is seek authorisation from the competition authority to talk with supermarkets, Australia Post and banks, to make sure that if that company gets into any trouble, we’ve got all the plans we need to keep cash moving, and to keep it available for Australians that want to use it.

Natalie Barr 

Okay, so there won’t be a run on cash?

Anna Bligh

Everyone needs to know there’s plenty of cash out there. This is about having a backup plan, making sure that as many many customers use cash less and less, we’re not about to become cashless, but we are all using less cash and we need to make sure we’ve got a plan B.

Natalie Barr 

Okay, that’s interesting. You said there’s a lot of cash out there because critics say since 2017, 60 percent of ATMs have closed in this country, 1400 bank branches have have closed, and a lot of critics say the banks are forcing people out of cash. What do you say to that?

Anna Bligh 

Banks have no desire to see cash disappear, they know their customers want to keep using it. Banks aren’t the only place you can get cash, you can also get it from supermarkets or from Australia Post outlets. But, what we know is that Australians themselves are just changing the way that they pay for things. I use my phone now most days, but I know that not everyone does that. But we now know that in the last, I think about five or six years, we’ve seen cash drop from 70 per cent of payments down to now about 13 per cent. So we’ve got to think about in five years time, what’s it going to look like when maybe it’s only 5 per cent? So there’s never been more cash on issue, and we’ve never used it less for paying for stuff. The Reserve Bank thinks that a lot of us are holding it at home because it’s a bit of comfort, and a security if the system goes down or there’s a flood. People like to know they’ve got cash. So there’s a lot of it out there, people are keeping it at home in, you know, biscuit tins.

Natalie Barr

 Are we? Under the mattress literally.

Anna Bligh

There’s $100 billion worth of notes out there. More than eighteen $100 notes for every living Australian. I don’t have $1,800 sitting at home, but you know, people like to have just something in their wallet. Something that if they’re, as I said, the system goes down, and we saw that a lot in COVID. People were worried, but they’re not using it when they go out and buy the groceries, they’re keeping it home for a rainy day.

Natalie Barr 

Okay, there you go. Cash is going nowhere, according to the Australian Banking Association. Thank you very much Anna Bligh.

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