Rising digital wallet adoption and falling branch visits underline shift in banking habits


Australians are increasingly turning away from traditional banking and payment methods in favour of digital alternatives according to a new analysis from the Australian Banking Association (ABA).

The ABA’s analysis, which was based on a survey of over 2,000 people conducted by RFi Research throughout 2021, found that less than 20% of Australians now prefer to conduct their day-to-day banking in a branch. In fact, 72% of survey respondents admitted that they hadn’t visited a branch of their main bank at all during the month of August.

Instead, the vast majority of Australians (over 80%) are electing to do everything from checking their bank account balances to transferring money either via online banking or a banking app.

Cash use is also on the decline. According to Reserve Bank research, cash accounted for 69% of retail payments in 2007 before dropping to just 27% by 2019. And this trend has been hastened further by the pandemic, with both cash use and ATM withdrawals having fallen even more.

"COVID-19 accelerated trends in our society and changed the way we live our lives,” said chief executive of the ABA, Anna Bligh.

“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.”

It’s not just cash that is becoming less relevant though, as a small, but growing number of Australians are ditching their wallets altogether. One in ten said that they leave their wallets at home, preferring instead to pay with digital wallets on their smartphones - up from just 4% in 2019. 

Overall, 37% of Australians with a smartphone now use digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay to make payments, which is a rate that has more than doubled since March 2020. 

This increase has likely been helped in recent years by the rising number of Australian banks that provide digital wallet integration, with close to 90% of the transaction accounts being tracked in the Mozo database now offering at least one digital wallet option.

% of transaction accounts offering
Apple Pay83%
Google Pay73%
Samsung Pay52%

And with the anticipated rollout of eftpos Australia’s eQR payment system - which allows payments to be made via QR code - before the end of the year, it’s likely that even more Australians will be reaching for their smartphones to pay in the future. 

RELATED: The new ‘tap and pay’: Launch of eftpos QR payment system just around the corner

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Compare transaction accounts - last updated 18 April 2024

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