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Reserve Bank

2021 Issues Papers

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 – 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 – 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


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 ninety-six percent of New Zealanders used cash as one of the ways they pay for everyday things, this had reduced to 63 percent in 2021 .
  • 40 percent of people who use cash do so less than twice a week.
  • The proportion of heavy cash users declined to 2 percent in 2021 from 5 percent 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 percent of Māori one of the reasons they use cash is for cultural reasons (such as Koha and gifting) compared to 24 percent for non-Māori.
  • 91 percent 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 percent 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 percent to 46 percent.
  • There are significant differences between Māori and non-Māori when it comes to cash use. Cash is the preferred way to pay for 22 percent of Māori compared to 12 percent 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)

The Reserve Bank 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 this.  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 that this research used indicative costings for the cash system and cash use in order to stimulate discussion, however these costings are not official RBNZ costings or to be relied upon for any purpose.]

Download report: The Value of Cash insights report (PDF 4.3MB)


Cash and payments data update: COVID-19 special

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 percent of the population indicated in 2020 that cash is one way they use to pay for everyday things, compared to 96 percent in 2019 and 2017.
  • The value of cash withdrawals has reduced from February 2020 by about 20 percent - 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 percent) and over 70 percent 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 percent) of the 863 branches that were operating in September 2019. Additionally, the portion of branches that are 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 percent) of these checkouts now only accept card payments compared to 2019 when about 80 percent accepted both cash and cards.
  • Most New Zealanders are able to 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 about $800 million was issued from the Reserve Bank, compared to $150 million in March 2019. Most of the cash withdrawn in March 2020 has not been returned to the Reserve Bank.

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


Comparison report: Cash use surveys 2017, 2019, 2020

Cash use survey 2020

The decline in cash users is reflected across a number of indicators, including the proportion of people who don’t hold cash in their wallet, and the number of people who are using cash less than they were 12 months ago. Increasing numbers of New Zealanders are using electronic payment options. In 2020 the trajectory of change in responses to some questions has increased dramatically:

  • Eighty-three percent of people who increased their use of debit/EFTPOS card by contactless means, said they were ‘likely/very likely’ to continue using that method ‘after the COVID-19 pandemic’
  • Half of New Zealanders said they were using less cash than they were 12 months ago - 70 percent of this group said it was ‘likely/very likely’ they would still not use cash when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
  • Three-quarters of those who reported using less cash in 2020 said COVID-19 was a contributing factor
  • The proportion of New Zealanders who preferred to pay using cash dropped by a quarter from 12 percent in 2019 to 9 percent in 2020
  • Two-thirds of the 9 percent of New Zealanders who prefer to use cash are able to use it at the places they shop ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’
  • For 73 percent of New Zealanders, it was either ‘very easy’ or ‘somewhat easy’ to get cash out when they need it; but only 23 percent of New Zealanders find it easy to deposit cash
  • Sixty-four percent of New Zealanders reported having cash in their wallet – down from around 80 percent in 2019 and 2017
  • Māori were more likely than non- Māori to report being unable to cope if they were unable to get or use cash in future.

Download report: Comparison report: Cash use surveys 2017, 2019, 2020 (PDF 1.8MB)

Download report: Cash use survey 2020 (PDF 1.6MB)

Earlier survey reports: 2019, 2017


Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata

Our continuing programme Te Moni Anamata has widened its focus from the Future of Cash to the Future of Money. This page links to our work leading up to the release of the Future of Money issues papers in September 2021, including previous consultations held in 2019 on the Future of Cash Use and the Future of the Cash System.

Read more about Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata


Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata – An internal programme research report – December 2019

The research and analysis presented in this report was undertaken during 2019 as part of the Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata Programme which is is designed to anticipate and plan for New Zealand’s cash requirements for the next 15 – 20 years. Formal policy work, such as the proposals and public consultations, has been informed by the research reported here. It offers conclusions and hypotheses for information or further exploration as the programme proceeds. Views expressed in this report are the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Reserve Bank.

Although published in late 2020, due to COVID-19 reprioritisation of resources, this report’s content pre-dates the pandemic which has caused abrupt changes in payments behaviours including cash demand, use, acceptance, and related services (such banking and Cash-in-Transit industry offerings); as well as contractions of markets (such as tourism and hospitality). The extent to which New Zealand’s COVID-19 experience hastens or entrenches a number of the longer term changes for cash users and other system participants – as well as non-cash payments systems - will become apparent over coming months and a research programme is being established to capture this.

Download report: Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata – An internal programme research report – December 2019 (PDF 3MB)


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

The research and analysis presented in this document was undertaken as part of the first stage of the Future of Cash – Te Moni Anamata programme. 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 publics’ use of cash in New Zealand, trends in cash use, the impact of payment and currency technology advances and the long-term resilience and efficiency of the cash distribution system. It offers conclusions and hypotheses for information or further exploration as the programme proceeds. The report is based on analysis of information that was either:

  • publicly available
  • provided voluntarily to the Reserve Bank for this project (information provided subject to Non-Disclosure Agreements has not been included)
  • generated as part of the ‘Cash Use in New Zealand’ public survey, or
  • stored or generated by the Reserve Bank’s currency operations.

These sources are not routinely cited in this report, as it was written for the Reserve Bank, and not for publication. The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Reserve Bank.

Download report: The future of cash in New Zealand - An internal project research report - June 2018 (PDF 2.72MB)