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Banking customers continue shift to digital

19 October 2021

New analysis by the ABA has shown a further shift by customers towards banking online and an increase in people paying with technology instead of physical cards or cash.

The data reveals;

  • More than 80 per cent of Australians say they prefer to check account balances, pay bills, or transfer money online. 
  • More than one in three Australians with smartphones use a digital wallet.
  • One in ten Australians regularly leave home without their wallet instead using their phone to pay for items, up from just four per cent in 2019.
  • Less than 20 per cent of Australians say they prefer to do any banking activities in branches.

The trends confirm that customers continue to choose technology options over traditional banking methods.

Recent RBA data also shows the continued steady decline of cash and credit cards. ATM withdrawals decreased by 20 per cent in the year to August 2021, after falling 16 per cent the year before.

“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.

ABA CEO Anna Bligh

ABA Chief Executive Anna Bligh said COVID-19 has influenced banking choices for Australians and believes these customer-led changes are here to stay.

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

“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.

“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. This same bank reported a steady branch usage drop of 32 per cent since January 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.

In addition, more than 80 banks and financial institutions are part of Bank@Post, a service facilitated by Australia Post that enables customers to manage their money at its 3,500 Post Offices across the country, including more than 1,800 in rural and remote locations.


Surveys were conducted by RFi Research, interviewing a minimum of 2,000 Australians throughout 2021.

The proportion of Australians using digital wallets continues to increase. The proportion of Smartphone owners using a digital wallet (including Apple Pay, CommBank Tap & Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, NAB Pay, WeChat Pay & Alipay) increased to 37% in the 18 months from September 2021, up from 18% in March 2020.

The frequency of digital wallet usage has also increased, with just over 71% of users of digital wallets reporting weekly usage in September 2021, from 40% in March 2019.

At the same time, Australians’ usage of branches continues to decline with 72% of Australians reporting they did not visit the branch of their main bank in the month leading up to September 2021.

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