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Booking Appointments to Get Cash

Booking Appointments to Get Cash

Australians may have to book appointments the next time they want to withdraw cash as several major banking institutions accelerate their digitalisation process.

This comes after a Queensland woman recently gained public attention after a Tiktok video describing her ordeal of withdrawing cash from a local bank branch went viral.

According to the video, Taryn Comptyn wanted to withdraw $3,500 (US$2,300) in cash to settle some personal matters.

She went to a local bank branch but forgot to bring her bank card, forcing her to go to the counter to ask a teller to help her withdraw the money.

Unfortunately for her, the teller said the branch did not have cash anymore, and the only way she could take cash out was to use the ATM.

The bank staff tried to help Comptyn by setting up the ATM so that she could withdraw cash without using her bank card.

However, it did not work out, as error messages kept popping up. Helpless, the staff apologised and told Ms. Comptyn to transfer money to a different account if she was with another bank and went to its branches to withdraw cash.

Having no other choice, Ms. Comptyn followed the advice. After transferring all the money out of the bank account, she decided to close it for good.

After going through the ordeal, Ms. Comptyn questioned the state of Australia’s banking system, asking how people could not access their money when they went to a bank.

The incident occurred after ANZ, one of Australia’s big four banks, announced in late March that it would phase out cash withdrawal in some branches, citing a sharp decline in over-the-counter transactions.

The bank did not specify which or how many branches were affected by the policy.

The announcement sparked condemnations from the public, with many threatening to stop using the bank.

It was later reported that NAB, another major bank, had implemented a similar policy.

Meanwhile, consumers from the other two major Australian banks, the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, can still withdraw cash via tellers.

Financial Experts’ Take on the Issue

Sally Tindall, the research director at the financial comparison website RateCity, said it was ridiculous that ANZ and NAB customers might have to search online to figure out whether their local branch could hand out cash.

“Some Australians opt for a big four bank because of the benefits branches can offer, including the ability to take out larger than usual amounts of cash when they might need it,” she told The Australian newspaper.

“However, in the case of a large withdrawal, it can sometimes be worth calling ahead to the branch to make sure they have enough cash on-site.”

A man walks down the stairs at ANZ Bank in Sydney, Australia, on May 2, 2017. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

Canstar group executive financial services Steve Mickenbecker said the shift to digital banking was partly responsible for the disappearance of cash from bank branches.

“It’s not surprising that they (banks) are holding a lot less cash–it’s a security risk and dead money sitting in a vault somewhere,” he said.

“For a long time, people had to do that if they were taking out foreign currency, but it has become like that with our own currency.”

Pointing to the fact that banks were moving away from ATMs, Mr. Mickenbecker warned that it would become very difficult for Australians to deal with cash in the future.

As of Jan 2023, there were around 6,400 active ATMs across the country, down from 31,000 eight years ago.

The State of Cash Transaction in Australia

The RBA Consumer Payments Survey conducted in late 2022 found only 13 percent of transactions were made using cash.

The share of cash purchases also halved over the past three years, which reflected the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s payment behaviour and accelerated the downward trend that had started since at least 2007.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of payments are made using cards, with half using debit cards and a quarter with credit.

The rest of all transactions are made up of mobile payments and direct online transfers.

While the decline in cash transactions is inevitable in the current economic climate, cash still proves its usefulness in many situations where online banking is impossible, including natural disasters, technical issues and data breaches.

In late June, Commonwealth Bank encountered a major technical issue that caused millions of its customers to be unable to use their bank cards or access their accounts. Many people have also taken to venting their frustration online as they were stranded without money for hours.

Lis Wang contributed to this article.

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