Sunrise star Nat Barr has exposed the biggest issue with society increasingly turning away from the use of cash by pointing out how disruptive internet outages can be for small businesses.
Nat was speaking during a tense segment with Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten and Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume following a warning by the Reserve Bank governor Michele Bullock this week that Australians may find accessing cash increasingly difficult and pay a fee to do so.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Nat Barr weighs into cashless society trend.
Stream the world’s best reality, entertainment and true crime shows for free on 7Bravo on 7plus >>
Quick-thinking Nat raised the effect of a possible internet outage in a cashless society, citing the recent issues facing Optus customers last month.
“The problem is — do we need cash for those ‘just in case’ moments like the Optus outage when people couldn’t pay for anything and cafes and small businesses had to shut down for the day because they couldn’t do anything else,” Nat said.
The Optus outage caused chaos for families and business owners on November 8, when the internet service provider failed to provide service to their business and residential customers.
Sunrise star Nat Barr exposed a major problem with a cashless society on Wednesday, when she mentioned the issues associated with internet outrages and a cashless society. Credit: Sunrise /Sunrise
Nat asked Shorten if he could see that situation arising.
“I know very few people use cash at the moment but can you see a world where we have to pay to use our cash?” Nat asked.
“I certainly hope not,” Shorten replied.
Shorten debated the point, saying it was just part of the Reserve Bank boss’s speech questioning examining broad social trends in cash use.
“As I understand it, the governor of the Reserve Bank board was giving a speech highlighting how society is changing. Back in 2007, 70 per cent of transactions were done by cash. Now it’s down to 13 per cent,” he said.
Bullock warned of possible fees for cash would be related to the distribution of banknotes in her speech.
“The challenge we face is that as the transactional use of cash declines, it is affecting the economics of providing cash services and putting pressure on the cash distribution system,” Bullock said.
Nat was grilling Bill Shorten and Jane Hume on the breakfast show, with most in agreeance that customers should not be charged to get their own money. Credit: Sunrise
Bullock’s warning came as it emerged cash distribution company Armaguard was facing heavy losses despite having a “near monopoly” on the business as branches and ATMs were closed amid declining demand for cash.
The AFR reported the big four banks — CommBank, Wespac, ANZ and NAB — were due to meet with the company on Thursday in a bid to help prop it up.
She also spoke of the cost of using cash in businesses, such as a register and physical receipts for customers.
Shorten went on to highlight how most of the public were now “low cash users” and only about “7 per cent are high cash users”.
“The problem with all of that is that the banks are winding back their ATMs. The two big cash carrying companies have merged into one and said it’s becoming more expensive to use cash,” he said.
Shorten said he hoped “paying cash to use cash” wasn’t rolled out, as it would anger the public.
Hume agreed, saying any kind of cashless society was still a premature concept.
“Cash is still legal tender and Australians should not be charged for the privilege of using their own legal tender,” she said.
“I would hope that the institutions involved would make sure Australians aren’t being charged more (for using cash),” Hume added.
“It was the last government who made sure that the public weren’t charged ATM fees.
“We want to make sure Australians can use their own money without being charged extra.”
Finishing the segment, Nat agreed she didn’t believe it would go down well with the public if we have to pay to use their own cash, agreeing it would be a major hurdle to the “cashless” concept.
‘I don’t think this will go down well, with Aussies, if we have to pay to use our own cash. Let’s hope it doesn’t get that.’