How we use cash

Although it’s commonly believed that cash is used less in today’s world, the actual amount and value of cash in circulation continues to grow year on year. New Zealand is not in a unique position as this same trend is observed all over the world with few exceptions.

$20 note being held in a hand

The Cash Use in New Zealand survey

The Bank is reviewing New Zealanders’ cash needs to ensure that how cash is managed in New Zealand will be suitable for the future. Understanding what cash is used for, and how it is used, is central to this review.

To support this review, Research New Zealand, on behalf of the Reserve Bank, ran a survey in 2017 to get better insight into how we use cash in New Zealand.

The survey's key findings

  • 96 percent of New Zealand's adult population use cash. Of that group, the older you are the more likely you are to use cash more frequently.
  • Around 80 percent of New Zealanders carry at least some cash in their wallet.
  • 30 percent of New Zealanders have cash stored somewhere other than a bank.
  • There are no marked differences in cash use between the North and South Islands, nor by gender.

Future work

The information the Reserve Bank gets from the survey data, and other sources, will make predicting New Zealand’s cash needs easier and more accurate in the future. This will help to ensure the Bank provides legal tender that meets the currency needs of the public.

More information is outlined in the Bank's Statement of Intent.

Survey information