Australia’s fifth largest bank has announced it will scrap cash transactions in all its branches, outraging customers and consumer advocates.
Macquarie Bank will begin phasing out all cash, cheque and phone payment services in its 80 branches from January as moves to digital-only transactions.
It will have ceased all in-branch cash transactions by next November.
‘Between January 2024 and November 2024, we’ll be phasing out our cash and cheque services across all Macquarie banking and wealth management products, including pension and super accounts,’ the bank said in a statement.
Finance expert Sarah Wells told Daily Mail Australia that Macquarie’s move ‘is the next step [towards] a cashless society.’
‘My biggest concern is when one starts the rest will follow,’ she said.
Earlier this year ANZ and Commonwealth Bank to stop handling cash in a handful branches but no bank had taken the step across all its branches.
Macquarie Bank will begin phasing out all cash, cheque and phone payment services in its 80 branches from January as moves to digital-only transactions
Finance commentator Sarah Wells (pictured) warned Australia could become cashless within three years
‘The next [step] may be cash rationing at ATMS which for some won’t be an issue but for others it will be, especially as brick and mortar banks look to serve their customers over the needs of those that use their ATMs,’ Ms Wells told Daily Mail Australia.
Macquarie bank has 1.7 million ‘clients’. Those customers wanting cash will still be able to withdraw it from ATM machines.
The biggest change for its traditional banking customers will happen in May 2024.
That’s when it will cease handling cash and cheque deposits and withdrawals over the counter.
The bank’s customers will lose the ability to deposit and withdraw cash from Macquarie accounts via NAB, which they can currently do, by November next year.
Ms Wells said this is a move Macquarie ‘may wish to reconsider’.
‘For some businesses this may cause them to need to change banks,’ she said.
By November 2024 all cheque transactions will end with Macquarie, including use of bank cheques.
The biggest change for Macquarie traditional banking customers will happen next May, which is when it will cease handling cash and cheque deposits and withdrawals over the counter.
It will also stop accepting superannuation contributions or payments using cheques.
From January it will scrap chequebooks for new cash management accounts, including Macquarie Wrap accounts.
Macquarie is Australia’s fifth largest bank by its market capitalisation of just under $69billion, only behind CBA, NAB, Westpac and ANZ.
It has a far bigger focus on asset management than retail banking, although it has valuable some retail banking services including car and home loans, and savings and transaction accounts.
It is well behind the big four in the number of retail customers, but still has over one million of them. It also has 20,105 employees.
Reaction to Macquarie’s announcement on social media was damning.
READ MORE: CBA’s ‘cashless’ branches
In July 2023 the Commonwealth Bank has opened a number of ‘cashless’ branches with customers no longer able to access their money over-the-counter.
‘Then it’s not a bank, it’s a digital processing centre,’ said one West Australian woman.
‘So they are refusing legal tender?’ one man asked.
One Victorian woman called it ‘blatant discrimination’.
‘This is sneaky way of making you use cards so they can make profits from administrative fees. Cash is still legal tender as such they have no right to refuse to allow choice for money.’
Another person called for a boycott of the bank, saying ‘I am sick of banks dictating the terms,’ said another woman.
‘There goes customers from Macquarie,’ another said.
Ms Wells suggested another banking player could enter the market to cater to a large number of Aussies who still want to use cash, including people in lower income households, the elderly, people in regional Australia and those with with disabilities.
‘Will someone come in a fill this space to cater to the needs of the still quarter of Australians classified as high cash users?’
Ms Wells warned Australia could become a cashless society in as little as three years with thousands of people to be left worse off because of it.
Among those who could suffer in a cashless society are people in regional areas, those caught in emergencies, indigenous Australians, new immigrants, sex workers, the elderly and even children.
Young people will suffer, Ms Wells warned, because they won’t learn the true value of money and lose valuable social interactions when all transactions are digital.
She says we can slow the disappearance of cash from society by using it when it still makes sense to do so.
Macquarie is Australia’s fifth largest bank by its market capitalisation of just under $69billion, only behind CBA, NAB, Westpac and ANZ. Pictured: Macquarie Bank CEO Shemara Wikramanayake
In July this year Commonwealth Bank announced it has opened a number of ‘cashless’ branches with customers no longer able to access their money over-the-counter.
Teller cash transactions are not available at branches including Commonwealth Bank Place in the centre of Sydney along with the nearby South Eveleigh, Barangaroo, Penrith and University of Sydney, which the bank now calls ‘specialist centres’.
Daily Mail Australia also understands some ‘specialist centre’ branches in Brisbane and Melbourne no longer permit over the counter cash withdrawals and deposits.
Deposits and withdrawals can still be made via on-site ATMs but for those who don’t have their bankcard handy things get much more difficult.
‘Cardless cash’ withdrawals of up to $500 a day using the CommBank app are available, but for those who need more funds or don’t have their phone with them, their money can’t be accessed.
ANZ bank also announced it will strip back some of its services, with certain branches in Victoria no longer carrying physical cash.
The bank has not disclosed which branches will be affected and insists only a ‘small number’ will be affected.
Which Australians will be hurt by the end of hard cash?
- Aussie kids
- Women affected by domestic violence
- Elderly Australians
- People in areas with unreliable internet (i.e. the bush)
- Indigenous Australians
- People affected by emergencies
- Sex workers
- New immigrants
- Undocumented workers