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Community cash service trials

He whakamātautau i te pūnaha moni a-rohe

We’re trialling new ways to help retailers bank takings and get change in rural communities lacking over-the-counter bank or ATM cash services. We're also ensuring their customers can get cash-outs without purchase.

Retailers' cash needs are met locally.

Left column:  Illustration of a rural store. Above the store, the retailer’s need to deposit surplus cash is shown. Under the store, the retailers need to withdraw cash to use as change is shown.  

Middle column: This column shows the possible trial services for retailers. Illustration of a rural depot. A rural depot would have a multi-bank smart ATM with coin facilities, or a smart safe providing a drop off and pick up point. Illustration of a security van. Another service option is an individual security van service to the rural store under a multi-retailer deal. We are open to other options.

Third column: Illustration of a security van going from and to the city, run by a company providing secure cash processing and transport.

Download the image (jpg, 178KB)

What we're doing

This research project recognises the important role of retailers in the cash system. The trials, funded by the Reserve Bank, will test new local ways for people, including retailers, to withdraw and deposit cash, such as change and takings, at little or no cost to them. Our research will run for about 18 months to inform future work to support cash use and the cash system.

About the trials

Options to be trialled might include us paying retailers for customers making cash out withdrawals without purchase, providing local cash deposit and change withdrawal facilities for retailers, or other retailer-focused arrangements to support cash use. An independent research provider will monitor and evaluate the trials.

The trials are expected to start between September 2024 and February 2025 in about 6 to 9 communities, likely to be in 2 or 3 clusters in different parts of Aotearoa New Zealand. Communities will be selected to participate following an application and shortlisting process. They will be likely to have a population between 1,000 and 10,000 people and will have lost most or all bank-provided counter and cash services.

Retailers can readily accept cash in payment and give change
Retailers can readily accept cash in payment and give change.

Top left corner: Rural people find it easy to withdraw and use cash easily. 

Middle column: Top, illustration of cash going from the rural people to the rural store, in return for goods and change. Bottom, showing the trial service of cash-out without purchase going from the rural store to the rural people, who use their bank card to make the cash withdrawal.

Third column: Illustration of a rural store. Cash-outs without purchase are available fee-free to customers, with retailers paid a fee by the trial.

Download the image (JPG, 218 KB)

How to register

Community or national representatives from iwi, local government, business, or voluntary sector groups can register their interest online, and we’ll be back in touch about the application process in late April 2024.

Register your interest

 

Project timeline

Current stage


Trials announced and community interest invited

This media release announced the trials, explaining the background to them, inviting interest from communities and other potential trial partners, and providing anticipated questions and answers.

Read the media release - Reserve Bank community cash trials to start in 2024

What's coming up

Town applications open. Cash service, security, and research partners contracted

When we have the application process ready to go in late April, we’ll put details here, promote it on news and social media channels, and tell everyone who’s registered interest or is on our Money, Cash and Payments Policy email updates list.

Meanwhile, we’ll be contracting cash handling equipment, cash service, security, and research partners to help us deliver and assess the trials.

We’ll also arrange with the payment switches who process card transactions between retailers, card companies and the banks involved to provide us with data so that we can pay retailers for cash-outs and monitor payment trends in the trial communities. This data won’t include identifying bank account or card details.

 

Trial towns shortlisted, solution suppliers confirmed, final approval to proceed, research monitoring begins.

By August 2024 we expect to have both our town clusters shortlisted and cash service suppliers finalised, allowing the Reserve Bank Board to give its final approval to start the trials.

We’ll then work with our shortlisted town clusters and suppliers to finalise the intended trials within the available budget. We expect that some towns may drop out due to logistical or budgetary reasons, or insufficient retailer support. We’ll confirm which shortlisted towns will be in the trial, finalise contracts, and sign-up retailers who want to offer the free cash outs. Our contractors will install any retailer deposit and change equipment in the town. We expect to bring towns into the trial between between September 2024 and February 2025 for an indicative 18-month period.

We’ll use news and social media, and work with business and community groups to explain and confirm availability of the new services, but we won’t be campaigning for people to use them as this might distort the trial and research results.

We’ll probably provide retailers with something like a counter card advising that free cash-outs are available, as well as details on how to use an existing bank account and access card to deposit takings and obtain change using the local machine. Businesses from outside the host town will also be able to use these facilities.

Our independent researcher will also begin monitoring any changes in cash acceptance and availability, which may include talking with retailers and customers from time to time.

 


Interim research report published

We plan to update everyone on how the trials are going by publishing a brief interim research report. We’ll need to balance:

  • the risks of influencing trial behaviour
  • any opportunities to tweak what we’re trying
  • public interest when deciding how much we can say before the trials end.
Calendar

Trials wrap up

The end date for the trials in each town will be mutually agreed at the start. We’ll be open to commercial providers or other arrangements taking over with the consent of all involved.


Final research report published

Our research following cash availability and acceptance in the trial towns (and a similar town not in the trials) will suggest what works, what doesn’t, and whether we should look to adopt versions of the initiatives more widely.

We’ll publish this research and say if and how we’re taking the ideas forward.

Completed stages

Trials budget and business case approved

A variation to our 5-year funding agreement to June 2025 signed with the Minister of Finance in August 2023 provided a budget of $3.16 million to cover all aspects of the trials work until the end of the agreement.

Our Board subsequently approved a business case for the trials in October 2023, which was the final step needed to get detailed planning and preparations underway.

Early work and updated policy context for the trials described

The Future of Money in New Zealand - In conversation with Ian Woolford of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua is an international question and answer session with our Director of Money and Cash. Ian reflects on our 2021 consultations across the spectrum of the Future of Money – Te Moni Anamata and our following work programme.

Our commitment to keeping cash available and accepted is a strong focus of the first two pages of the interview, including development of these trials along with policy work starting on the potential to mandate cash acceptance.

Read the interview with Ian Woolford (PDF, 3.2 MB)

Cash system redesign public consultation suggests solutions to trial

We published an issues paper which described mutually reinforcing challenges of it getting harder to find places to withdraw cash and retailers starting to refuse cash for payment as they faced their own challenges to bank cash and get change. Suggested solutions included paying retailers for giving cash-outs without purchase and finding ways to make coin circulation more efficient.

Read the issues paper and see the consultation responses

Frequently asked questions

Cash allows individuals and groups to trade easily and instantly with each other. It supports cultural customs such as koha, family, community, and business life.

We know that about 6% of the population rely on cash to live their lives, and these people tend to be among more vulnerable groups — for example, the young, elderly or disabled. They may not have a bank account or online access for a variety of reasons.  People who rely on cash are also more likely to live rurally or be Māori.

Most of us want to have the option of paying in cash and do use it occasionally.  We also know that it’s a great back-up option when power and data essential to digital payments are down, as seen during extreme weather events.

While there is a continuing trend away from cash towards digital payments for everyday transactions, we know that some of that is driven by provider incentives to pay digitally — for example, points programmes or disincentives to deal in cash — for example, removing cash services from branches, increased travelling time to remaining branches or ATMs, and reduced opening hours. 

We know people value the option of using cash, even if they don’t use it very often. We want to explore how best to keep that option available. The trials enable us to explore new ways of providing cash services in a cost-effective way.

A central bank digital currency (CBDC) would be another form of central bank money to circulate alongside cash, and not a replacement for it. We want central bank money – whether cash or any future CBDC – to be widely available and accepted.

Central bank money provides a state-backed alternative to money held in commercial bank accounts which rely on the strength of the bank concerned. 

Central bank money also provides a marker of value for the New Zealand dollar, helping make sense of prices, and what private money is worth and can be exchanged for.

We will be following typical public sector procurement processes where external support is needed for the researched trials. The method taken for each procurement will differ slightly depending upon factors such as scope, value, supplier market. We may use existing All of Government consultancy panels or closed tenders in some cases. Any procurement related advertising will be on GETS, the government electronic tender service.

Fill in our online form to register your business’ interest.

Register your interest

Completing this form is not a requirement for consideration in future procurement processes. We are not accepting requests to talk or meet with prospective suppliers outside of active procurement processes.

No, our trials will avoid communities where NZBA is piloting 7 community banking hubs. We are supportive of the NZBA hubs work.  This is testing models for shared banking shopfronts, while our experiments are focused on keeping cash working in under-serviced communities, so we don’t want these two different and important experiments tripping each other up.