How will a cashless society affect older Australians?

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Later this year, the Reserve Bank of Australia will roll out new technology that could lead to Australia becoming a cashless society by 2020.

The RBA’s New Payment Platform (NPP) would make electronic payments faster and easier and would bring Australia into line with the rest of a world increasingly heading towards cashless systems. Sweden is already on the verge of becoming the world’s first completely cashless society.

Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) spokesperson, Paul Versteege, told the ABC that older Australians are anxious of such change.

Mr Versteege says that older Australians are distrustful of automated systems – and, considering that hacker activity and online fraud is on the rise, he may have a point. He also noted that many older Australians still use old phones. The RBA’s new technology would rely heavily on smartphone capabilities in order to conduct transactions.

YourLifeChoices’ own research suggests that Mr Versteege may be slightly exaggerating when it comes to how older Australians ‘trust’ online services. The YourLifeChoices Retirement Insights 2017 survey revealed that 65 per cent of respondents access the internet two or more than three times a day, with over 65 per cent of them spending one to three hours per day online. And although there is a skew towards purchasing certain products (such as health products, technology, furniture and whitegoods) from retail outlets, they regularly use online resources to access retirement information, purchase products and services online (70 per cent), research travel options leading to the online purchase of airfares, accommodation and travel insurance, and conduct financial transactions.

Recent research even shows that 50 per cent of older Australians prefer to bank online.

Perhaps the more worrying facet of a cashless society would be the elimination of physical money itself. To make ends meet, many pensioners tend to do odd cash jobs for things such as house, child and pet minding, gardening and handyman work.

A switch to a cashless society would then see the extra money earned from these jobs having to go through ‘the system’ – meaning many would have their Age Pensions reduced, thus making it more difficult to get by week to week.

It may also have an affect on their ability to budget. Many people would rather withdraw a specific cash amount each week on which to live, rather than rely on card and online transactions. As we all know, it’s easier to spend what we can’t see.

So, while Mr Versteege may have a few telling points about older Australians’ attitudes towards a cashless society, I’m not so sure that the ‘technology’ aspect is at the forefront of their concerns.

However, should Australia become a cashless society by 2020, all Australians, not just older people, will have to adjust accordingly.

Do you fear a cashless society? How would it affect you? Do you think this would be a positive development

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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?



Total Comments: 144
  1. 0

    While I use a credit, or debit, card for nearly all my purchases I find to hard to see a totally cashless society in the future. There are many activities where cash is the only viable means of payment but these are mainly at a social level. Imagine a sausage sizzle at Bunnings where payment was made electronically for example.
    I do have reservations about the use of smartphones for making payments as these can be hacked and this raises the odds of illegal activities.
    I am all for new technology provided it is not going to add cost or complexity to life.

    • 0

      I tend to agree with you, Tom, what about the charities with their tins. I usually put my loose change in but no way would I be using my phone to donate the odd dollar.
      Getting rid of cash allows government and big business to track and control every transaction we make.
      Governments and banks will find a way to block certain purchases and how many companies do you think will suddenly see a way of making extra profit by charging 1-2-3% on credit card transactions when there is no other way to pay. And if you think the government will stop that then I’ll introduce you to the fairies at the bottom of my garden.
      I think a cashless society will become fact as there are advantages but there are many disadvantages as well and some of them outweight the advantages.

    • 0

      A comparison could be the introduction of ‘no paper tickets’ on public transport, you use a plastic card (ie Opal or MiKi etc). The most frustrating parts of that process is the lack of visibility of value on the cards and the inability to use public transport if you leave (or lose) you card at home.

    • 0

      It would be interesting, Eddy, to know how much the government makes from the leftover balances that tourists leave on their Opal cards.

    • 0

      Triss, I have had similar thoughts must be a significant sum. Also consider the ‘interest free’ loans from people like myself who use PT infrequently.
      One concern I have with a ‘cashless society” is the potential for unscrupulous traders to add a dollar or two onto your device/card without you noticing. If caught out they could claim it was a ‘finger’ error.

    • 0

      Only load as much as you need onto your PT cards. Seniors can load as little as $2.50 on Opal cards. That’s all I do.

    • 0

      “All roads lead to Rome” So in effect the Government will know exactly what you purchase, where you purchase, balances of accounts. There will be nowhere to hide. Surely this is not the intention of Governments????????????????

    • 0

      I can just see people sitting down every month and poring over their 50 page statements of $1.50 newspapers, $2 cartons of milk, $1 gold coin donations, $3 coffees etc just to make sure there are no double charges or erroneous entries. Right?

    • 0

      Thanks, Old Geezer, I didn’t know that.

    • 0

      Triss last time I tried it was much more if you loaded your Opal card online but you can buy vouchers in smaller amounts from vendors who load your card. I was in Sydney for the day and only needed $2.50 to travel all day. I did something very similar in Melbourne. Perth and Adelaide gave me free transport so no need for any cards. I haven’t tried Brisbane’s system yet as I can drive to Brisbane from where I live.

  2. 0

    I know a lot of older people who have never had a debit or credit card & don’t have a smart phone, myself being one of them as I get by with my old flip phone and it is good enough for what I want. There is another concern as many remote areas do not have card facilities also not everyone has a computer & have never had the inclination to own one. It really is only another way to control the masses & their spending taking away freedom of choice if you ask me.

    • 0

      Only remote area I have been to that has not accepted my cards has been Santo a Pacific island. Everywhere else I have been no problems and cash not necessary. Had a fellow fix my fridge and he accepted my card as payment with a device in my house. Cash is no longer necessary.

  3. 0

    Viva the exchange economy. If I babysit your children will you fix my leaking taps? How about a lift into town in exchange for a freshly picked pumpkin or a jar of jam. Very sad for those who really need the cash to keep the lights on at home.

  4. 0

    Hacker activity and online fraud will continue to increase.

  5. 0

    As a person well into my 80s I use my credit card for almost everything I buy. If I am not too sure of the person I am buying from I use a debit card with a very low load of money on it. I keep full records of all my finances on spread sheets which I update at least once daily so that I know my financial position at all times. I am lucky to have been employed in the Data Processing industry for over 30 years so am not bothered by computers. However I also find it hard to see a completely cash free society.

  6. 0

    We live in a mobile phone black spot and smartphones do not work here. There was nothing in either the original news report or the story above that mentioned making more phone towers available to cover the whole continent thus making a cashless society possible for those in many rural and regional areas.
    Apart from the dodgy security of the smart phones it sounds like just another way to track Australia’s citizens and their spending habits.

  7. 0

    I hope they wait a few more years. We are both in our Eighties and whilst I am quite adept with this new technology. My wife even hates my mobile phone. She uses her credit card but that is as far as it goes. Without me she would be totally dependant on others. Just slow down a bit until the Millenials are were we are now.

  8. 0

    My real concern with cashless society is how much are we going to be charged by the credit card provider for each transaction. These charges can accumulate to a large part of your fixed income. No bank is going to allow you to continually use your credit without charging you a fee for each transaction.

  9. 0

    As everyone is writing there concerns the German parliament is being hacked lol. People also forget what happens if the persons smart phone or computer breaks, they have to find money to fix it also…it’s ll to hard really…..can’t wait to see it happen………..NOT

  10. 0

    “Sweden is already on the verge of becoming the world’s first completely cashless society”
    Oh well will have to cross Sweden off our travel plans as use cash overseas which is cheapest, quickest, easiest, etc almost everywhere else, No Hacker activity and online fraud, etc Was looking forward to going there actually.

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