Strong public preference for cards and electronic payments quantified

Release date
30 October 2019

A Reserve Bank survey of the public’s cash use has found that nearly nine in every 10 New Zealanders prefer to pay for things without using cash, while just six percent had used only cash to pay for things in the week before completing the survey.

“The 2019 survey results released today reinforce the need for the cash system – the way cash is distributed and circulated – to evolve with the way New Zealanders are using cash,” says Assistant Governor and General Manager of Economics, Financial Markets and Banking Christian Hawkesby.

The survey was commissioned by the Bank’s Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata programme which is in the final week of a public consultation on proposals for the Bank to take a more active role in the cash system. The consultation proposes that the Reserve Bank take on a stewardship role in the cash system, providing system-wide oversight and coordination, and proposes two tools which, though not currently required, may be needed in the future to respond flexibly to changes in the cash industry and the evolving needs of the public.

Other high level findings from the Cash Use in New Zealand Public Survey 2019 released today:

  • Nearly a quarter of New Zealanders did not use cash at all in the week before completing the survey, and a further 40% used it only once or twice.
  • Seven percent of New Zealanders use cash as their main way of paying for everyday things, while more than 80% use electronic bank cards.
  • The most common main reason for using cash is to use it at a farmers market or roadside stall.
  • Older people are much more likely than younger people to have used cash in the last week.
  • Younger adults are more likely to do their banking online, while older people are more likely to do it in-branch or at an ATM.
  • Around 60% of children under 13 were reported to use cash for payments, while 42% of teenagers were reported to use an electronic bank card and 25% to use online payment options.
  • A third of New Zealanders have New Zealand cash stored somewhere other than in a bank.
  • Around 60% of New Zealanders feel indifferent about the decline in cash use.

“These results showing that most New Zealanders are using cash less need to be considered alongside our extensive engagement on the future of cash that has shown that people who are already digitally, financially or socially excluded would be severely affected if cash was to disappear or be refused today,” Mr Hawkesby says.

“Our consultation, closing on November 6, is focused on tools the Bank believes it needs to help ensure the cash system remains resilient and effective in the face of declining use,” he says. “We welcome views from individuals and organisations from all sectors of society and business as we continue this work.”

The public survey results and the consultation feedback will feed into any reshaping of the proposals and policy advice to Government due in December 2019. In 2020, the Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata programme will help implement any agreed changes, prepare a detailed specification for the Bank’s own future vaulting requirements and cash arrangements with retail banks, and continue to work with the wider cash system on preparing for the future.

More Information

Media contact
Peter Northcote
External Communications Adviser
Ph: +64 4 471 3821
Email: peter.northcote@rbnz.govt.nz