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Future of cash news and resources

This page has our latest news releases, reports and information releases relating to the future of cash and cash use.

Future of cash news releases

Reserve Bank pleased with strong public interest in the Future of Money – news release 29/04/2022

Cash system redesign essential to support changing usage – news release 3/03/2022

Innovation key to the future of money and cash – news release 8/02/2022

The Future Money demands innovation – speech 8/02/2022

Reserve Bank outlines options for cash system reform – news release 30/11/2021

Reserve Bank consults on the future of money – news release 30/09/2021

Reserve Bank confirms consultations ‘key to the future of how New Zealanders pay and save’ –  7/07/2021

Reserve Bank seeks to preserve benefits of cash – 19/10/2020

Strong public preference for cards and electronic payments quantified – 30/10/2019

Reserve Bank seeks views on expanded stewardship role for cash – 2/10/2019

What's the future for cash in New Zealand – 19/06/2019

Have your say

The Reserve Bank invited feedback on a series of issues papers to test our thinking about how we should approach our new role as steward of the money and cash system and make sure that central bank money continues to do its job in light of significant changes affecting how New Zealanders pay, receive and save money.

Future of Money – Cash System Redesign (Te Moni Anamata – He Whakahou i te Pūnaha Moni) is seeking feedback on issues facing the cash system and explores options to achieve greater efficiency and resilience. (Published 30 November 2021, feedback closed 7 March 2022).

Read more about the Future of Money – Cash System Redesign

Future of Money – Stewardship (Te Moni Anamata – Kaitiakitanga) seeks your feedback on how we should steward money and cash following a recent law change. (Published 30 September 2021, feedback closed 6 December 2021).

Read more about the Future of Money – Stewardship

Future of Money – Central Bank Digital Currency (Te Moni Anamata – Aparangi ā Te Pūtea Matua) wants your views on how we propose to explore whether a CBDC is right for Aotearoa. (Published 30 September 2021, feedback closed 6 December 2021).

Read more about the Future of Money – Central Bank Digital Currency

Future of Money – Summary of responses to our 2021 issues papers sets out the key themes in the feedback received.

Read more about the Future of Money – Summary of responses to our 2021 issues papers

Reserve Bank

2021 Cash Use Survey Summary Report (March 2022)

The 2021 survey is the third in a series, following on from 2017 and 2019 (available below). The key findings from this survey are:

  • The use of cash as a way to pay for everyday things has declined sharply. In 2019, 96% of New Zealanders used cash as one of the ways they pay for everyday things, this had reduced to 63% in 2021.
  • 40% of people who use cash do so less than twice a week.
  • The proportion of heavy cash users declined to 2% in 2021 from 5% in 2017
  • The main reason for people who report using cash as a way to pay is because the shop/stall only accepts cash. For 42% of Māori one of the reasons they use cash is for cultural reasons (such as Koha and gifting) compared to 24% for non-Māori.
  • 91% of people who report using cash use an ATM as one way of getting cash out, but only nine percent use a teller at a bank .
  • 8% of cash users find it somewhat difficult or very difficult to get cash out while 24 percent said the same about depositing cash.
  • Between 2017 and 2021 the proportion of New Zealanders storing cash (and not for immediate use) rose from 38% to 46%.
  • There are significant differences between Māori and non-Māori when it comes to cash use. Cash is the preferred way to pay for 22% of Māori compared to 12% for non-Māori.
  • Rural New Zealanders are more likely to be concerned about a reduction in cash use within society compared to those living in urban areas.

Download report: 2021 Cash Use Survey Summary Report (PDF 1.8MB)

Download report: 2021 Cash Use Survey Methodology Report (PDF 2.0MB)

Download report: 2021 Cash Use Survey Data Tables (XLSX 35KB)

The Value of Cash insights report (April 2021)

We commissioned four independently run research workshops to better understand how New Zealanders value cash despite most of us not using it much.

‘While not universal, workshop participants’ valuing of cash money and a desire for its continued use is dominant… [T]he idea of a managed transition was also frequently heard.’

The needs of vulnerable groups and the maintenance of a payments choice giving autonomy and independence were principal drivers. Financial education, cultural users, privacy, ‘and a lack of faith in alternative [payments] systems’ were also considerations, the research report says.

‘It is widely and strongly felt that funding the continuation of the cash system is the responsibility primarily of the banks due to this being a perceived obligation of their right to do business in New Zealand and their perceived high profitability in New Zealand,’ says the Kantar New Zealand report. Alternatively, participants preferred taxpayer funding the system over expecting users who had less choice and money to pay directly.

[Please note this research used indicative costings for the cash system and cash use to stimulate discussion; however, these costings are not official Reserve Bank of New Zealand costings or to be relied upon for any purpose.]

Download The Value of Cash insights report (PDF 4 MB)

Cash and payments data update: COVID-19 special

In June 2021, we released a special report on 'Cash and payments data update: COVID-19 special'.

Download the Cash and payments data update: COVID-19 special report (PDF 1.8 MB)

The report showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the decline in transactional cash use, compounded by accelerating reductions in banks’ branch and cash services, and despite New Zealanders’ rush to cash in March 2020:

  • About 70% of the population indicated in 2020 that cash is one way they use to pay for everyday things, compared to 96% in 2019 and 2017.
  • The value of cash withdrawals has reduced from February 2020 by about 20%—likely due to less demand from New Zealanders and an absence of international visitors.
  • Digital banking and contactless payments are increasingly popular. Contactless is now the preferred way of paying for most New Zealanders (36%) and over 70% of people are making payments from their bank accounts.
  • The closure of branches of the five major banks accelerated between September 2019 and March 2021, with about 211 branches closed over that time. That was just under a quarter (24%) of the 863 branches that were operating in September 2019. Additionally, the portion of branches operating on reduced days and hours has increased and now appears to be about half of all branches operated by the major five banks. Rural areas have been more affected by changes to the branch network than urban centres.
  • Since 2019, there has been a notable increase in the number of self-service checkouts in New Zealand. The majority (about 70%) of these checkouts now only accept card payments compared to 2019 when about 80% accepted both cash and cards.
  • Most New Zealanders can pay using their preferred method most of the time, and this is slightly higher for cash users compared to those who pay using other methods.
  • While transactional cash use has been declining in general, there was a sharp increase in demand for cash in New Zealand as the COVID-19 pandemic started to seriously impact the country. In the weeks leading up to the nationwide lock down in March 2020, we issued about $800 million was issued compared to $150 million in March 2019. Most of the cash withdrawn in March 2020 has not been returned to us.

Internal reports

Future of cash – Te Moni Anamata – an internal programme research report

This December 2019 report presents research and analysis we did in 2019 as part of the Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata programme. The programme is designed to anticipate and plan for New Zealand’s cash requirements for the next 15 to 20 years.

Download the Future of cash – Te Moni Anamata – an internal programme research report – December 2019

The future of cash in New Zealand – an internal project research report

This June 2018 report presents research and analysis we did as part of the first stage of the Future of cash – Te Moni Anamata programme.

The future of cash in New Zealand – An internal project research report – June 2018

It presents the programme’s initial assessment (as at June 2018) of the current state of the cash system, which includes:

  • the cash distribution system
  • the public’s use of cash in New Zealand
  • trends in cash use
  • the impact of payment and currency technology advances
  • the long-term resilience and efficiency of the cash distribution system.