- ANZ, one of Australia's largest banks, has decided to cease facilitating cash withdrawals and deposits from select branches.
- The move is part of a broader push towards encouraging customers to use ATMs and deposit machines, and comes as Australia moves towards a cashless society.
ANZ, one of Australia’s largest banks, has sparked controversy with its recent decision to cease facilitating withdrawals and deposits from a number of its branches.
The move is part of a push by the bank to encourage customers to use an ever-dwindling number of ATMs and deposit machines, but has been met with criticism from those concerned about the impact on older Australians and the potential for technical issues.
Withdrawal freeze prompts criticism
Critics of the move, including Patricia Sparrow, CEO of the Council on the Ageing, have expressed concerns that the withdrawal freeze could have a disproportionate impact on older Australians who may be less comfortable using digital banking tools.
Others have pointed out that the move could make fiat users more vulnerable to technical issues, and that it could be part of a broader push toward eliminating cash altogether.
In response to questions from media outlets, an ANZ spokesperson stated that the affected branches are all metropolitan branches that have ATMs and deposit machines nearby, and that the move was partially prompted by a decline in in-branch transactions by more than 50% over the past four years.
ANZ’s decision comes at a time when Australia is gradually moving towards a cashless society, with the percentage of retail payments made with cash falling from 59% in 2007 to just 27% in 2019, according to a bulletin from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) released on March 16.
The RBA noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, with many businesses indicating plans to discourage cash payments at some point in the future.
The RBA also pointed out that there has been a reduction in the number of ATMs and bank branches around the country, with the number of bank branches falling by 30% since 2017, and ATM numbers falling by 25% since 2016.
One of the major concerns about the shift towards cashless transactions and the use of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) is how it might impact individual privacy and freedom, as cash transactions offer anonymity and the ability to make transactions without leaving a record.
ANZ spokesperson clarifies move
In an email response to questions from Cointelegraph, a spokesperson for NAB, another of the Big Four banks, said that NAB still handles cash at its branches and has no plans to change, adding that cash will continue to play an important role in Australian society for as long as customers want it to.
The other two banks in the Big Four, CBA and Westpac, did not comment on the matter at the time of publication. However, Westpac told The Australian that it has no plans to wind back access to cash through its branches, while a CBA spokesperson was slightly more ambiguous in their response.
ANZ’s decision to cease facilitating withdrawals and deposits from select branches has raised concerns about the impact on older Australians and the potential for technical issues.
While the bank has stated that the affected branches all have nearby ATMs and deposit machines, critics argue that the move could be part of a broader push toward eliminating cash altogether.