Claims by the ATO that cash is more expensive and inconvenient to use for payments have been rubbished by businesses, suggesting there is staunch resistance to the push for a cashless society.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) recently released research it claimed showed that close to half of Australian consumers feel that cash-only businesses are “inconvenient” to deal with.
Furthermore, it suggested this perceived inconvenience is a threat to brand reputation, while assistant commissioner Matthew Bambrick even suggested that “tap-and-go payments cost an average of nine cents less than cash payments.”
It followed separate ATO data that said just 20 per cent of customers continue to use cash when making purchases.
The ATO is currently on a targeted push to clean up the black economy and reduce tax avoidance.
However, its anti-cash views attracted criticism from the business community.
“For businesses that have a lot of small sales, the electronic fees can be quite high on a percentage basis. Credit cards instead of eftpos (electronic funds transfer at point of sale) is even higher. Then there is the cost of the equipment on top of that. If your average sale is $50, it's probably worth having; if it's $5, it probably is not,” one My Business reader commented.
“Besides, not everyone uses tap-and-go (security-wise, it is actually very poor – it’s added enormously to police time) and I have seen electronic payments take considerable time (not enough money on that card – try another one, got the PIN wrong or is that the PIN for the other card, etc.).”
Another suggested that cash is more inconvenient for the tax office than it is for the general population, and agreed that electronic payments can be more expensive than the ATO claimed.
“I also agree with the previous comment – electronic payments do not come cheap, and how they can be cheaper than cash as suggested by the ATO comment, I cannot see,” the reader said.
“It amazes me how the young of today use a card to buy a cup of coffee, something I would not dream of doing. And of course, tomorrow we will be lectured by the press as to how much our credit card debt is, and how we have to get it down or the country will go down the chute.
“I am happy paying cash, particularly for small non-business purchases, and will continue to do so.”
The views of business leaders have been backed up by a separate independent study by global payments firm NCR Corporation, which recently surveyed 5,000 Australians and 2,000 New Zealanders on their payment habits.
Its findings, published in the report Banking in Australia and New Zealand: At a digital crossroads, suggested that “cash is here to stay”.
NCR found that 66 of Australians of all ages continue to withdraw cash from ATMs at least once a month – even though half (51 per cent) are actively using their mobile banking apps each week.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.