Woolworths Metro cashless trial to expand in coming weeks

More Woolworths stores across Melbourne and Sydney will no longer be accepting cash as the supermarket giant expands its trial of cashless Metro stores.

Nine Metro stores, including those on Bourke and Elizabeth Streets in Melbourne, and North Sydney, Manly and York Street in Sydney will no longer accept notes or coins.

From today, the same goes for stores in Yarraville and Caulfield North in Melbourne and Roseberry in Sydney.

The trial aims to limit staff and customer interaction and will help CBD customers shop more efficiently.

While Woolworths is happy with the initial trial, its sentiments aren’t shared across the board, with some shoppers calling for a boycott of the chain.

Some Sydney shoppers who were unaware of the change had to travel to three different stores before finding one that would accept cash.

Some say it is discriminatory towards those who still use cash, such as older Australians, while others feel it’s an invasion of privacy, fearing the store will track and sell purchase data.

According to a Smart Company report, a Woolworths spokeswoman said the stores were already seeing far fewer cash transactions, but that customer feedback would be “closely monitored” during the trial.

“As more and more customers choose to pay with cards, we’re trialling all electronic payments in a small selection of Metro stores which currently see very few cash transactions,” she said, adding that the majority of customers welcomed the change.

“We understand cash remains an important payment option for many of our customers and it continues to be offered in all Woolworths supermarkets and the majority of our Metro stores.

“We will closely monitor the feedback from our customers during this trial.”

During the COVID-19 crisis, there has been an increased take-up of contactless payments, with many small businesses switching to card-only practices very early in the pandemic.

Coles and Woolworths and their subsidiaries have increased their upper limit for contactless payment to $200, to encourage shoppers to convert to more hygienic payment methods.

The limits was initially meant to last three months, but the Australian Payments Network (APN) is seeing industry support for an increased limit of $200 for all contactless payments.

“The increased limit is a pragmatic and important response to a changing environment,” said APN chief Andy White.

“Consumers are tending to buy more, less often.

“The new $200 contactless limit will mean fewer consumers need to touch the payment terminal.”

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s 2019 Consumer Payments Survey, cash payments fell to 27 per cent of payments in 2019, and from around 70 per cent in 2007.

Worldpay global e-commerce general manager Phil Pomford says cash was on its way out even before the pandemic and he estimates that by 2023, only five per cent of point of sale transactions will involve cash.

“With concerns around safety and hygiene in regard to the handling of cash, there’s no doubt that this trend has been accelerated,” said Mr Pomford.

“It’s no surprise to see major retailers like Woolworths making a concerted effort towards digital-first or entirely digital payment solutions. It’s simply a non-negotiable for retailers if they wish to remain competitive and continue to attract an increasingly digital-savvy customer.”

Until then, all Woolworths stores apart from the nine cashless Metro stores will accept cash payments; however, some stores will have fewer machines that accept cash.

How will you fare with cashless supermarkets? What are your biggest concerns with a cashless society?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?
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