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Why the shift to a digital economy is accelerating in Aus

The latest Digital Economy report released by Australian Payments Network (AusPayNet), the payments industry self-regulatory body, shows Australia’s shift to a digital economy is accelerating, with card payments increasing rapidly while cash and cheques decline. 

The AusPayNet report reveals that card payments are more popular than ever, with consumers making over 8.3 billion card payments in 2017, equating to almost 23 million transactions each day. 

Almost 7 in 10 of these card payments were made with a debit card, and debit card payments grew 15.3% to 5.6 billion in 2017, up 87% since 2012. 

The growing consumer preference for digital payments is reflected in the rapid decline in cheque use and ATM withdrawals, which together accounted for fewer than two million transactions a day in 2017. 

The AusPayNet report shows that in 2017 there was a: 

  • 19.7% decline in cheques written, down to 89.7 million.
  • 5.9% decline in ATM withdrawals, down to 610.1 million. 

AusPayNet CEO Leila Fourie says, “The continued shift to digital payments is not surprising given how connected and mobile our society is. 

“Almost 9 in every 10 Australians own a smartphone, and more than 3 in every 5 use them to make payments.”

“This is driving uptake in digital payments and laying down a powerful base for the next wave of payments innovation.” 

Examples of payments innovation include mobile apps providing a more seamless payment experience and the recent introduction of the New Payments Platform (NPP), which allows customers to make easier and faster payments using a mobile phone number or an email address rather than BSB and account number. 

The Digital Economy report shows consumers are embracing e-commerce, with 72% purchasing online in 2016-17, up from 61% two years earlier. 

The value of online spending continues to grow and in 2016-17 was up 15.1% on the previous year. The uptake of wearables is growing steadily, with smartwatch penetration reaching 9% in 2017, up from 5% in 2016.

AusPayNet’s report revealed that Australia’s migration to digital payments is enabled by a high penetration of point-of-sale terminals and a low number of ATMs relative to many overseas countries. 

The report provides updates on industry and government initiatives to support the transition to the digital economy including open-loop transit (metro transport cards that are account-based and compatible across networks in different cities), open banking and the consumer data rights.

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