Supermarket battles cashless store rumour

There have been rumours that one supermarket giant is considering a move to cashless stores. But how close are they to the truth?

Every day we get closer and closer to a cashless society. From buying transport tickets with our mobile phones to paying for goods using our faces, coins and notes are fast becoming a thing of the past.

A little over a year ago, Woolworths conducted cashless trials at some of its inner-city Metro stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Read: Would you use your face to make payments?

Spruiked as a way to make shopping as “seamless as possible for busy inner-city customers”, the trial was met with fierce opposition from customers, and was quickly shut down.

At the time, National Seniors Australia chief advocate Ian Henschke called the move to cashless stores “a form of ageism” that would disproportionately affect older Australians.

“These are people who grew up with cash and they feel comfortable with cash, it is what they want,” he said.

“If I was an 89-year-old pensioner, why should I be prevented from shopping at my local supermarket?”

But the rumours of Woolworths going cashless persisted.

Read: Major supermarket chain launches QR code payments

In a bizarre post-election Facebook post, Diane Demetre, Liberal Democrat candidate for the Queensland seat of Moncrieffe, claimed that Woolworths would be making all its stores nationwide cashless from 26 May – and that the election of Anthony Albanese was responsible.

“Labor government sworn in Monday. Cashless society begins today [26 May] with Woolworths stores refusing to accept or give out cash. It won’t be easy under Albanese!” the post reads.

It’s not clear what Ms Demetre was basing this rumour on – or how Labor’s election win was involved.

Woolworths immediately distanced itself from the claim.

Read: Beat inflation with these supermarket tips

“Cash remains an important payment option for many of our customers and will continue to be offered as a payment form in our stores,” a spokesperson told AAP Factcheck.

The move toward a cashless society introduces questions around privacy and security, as both governments and private corporations will have access to your transaction records.

It also relies on consumers being familiar with technology, something some older people may struggle with. It presents problems now and in the future, as younger people may understand the technology now, but will that be the case in the future?

Any move toward a fully digital society with a cashless economy needs to embrace older people and not leave anyone behind, or it won’t be sustainable in the long run.

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Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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