Some customers weren’t happy, but in 2023 a number of KFC outlets moved to cashless sales only. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the stores are perfectly within their rights to do so, as long as they make it clear to customers what types of payment are accepted. KFC aren’t the only ones. We’ve heard grumblings about a local fish and chip shop going cashless. On the other hand, the dumpling bar at the food court over the road charges extra if you don’t pay cash.
The way we handle money has come a long way since the days when we received our weekly pay in a little brown envelope, depositing it (or not) in a bank account from which we could withdraw between 10 am and 3 pm Monday to Thursday and 10 am to 5 pm on Fridays. My mother had a series of small jars in her wardrobe where banknotes were apportioned for the upcoming household bills.
Then salaries began to be paid directly into bank accounts. The arrival of automatic teller machines (ATMs) from 1969 helped to reunite us with our cash outside banking hours. Then, in 1974, Bankcard arrived. It was the beginning of cashless sales, although it was some years before supermarkets accepted credit card payments.
Fast forward to 2023 and we don’t even need cards anymore. Instead, we pay with the digital wallet on our smartphone or watch. An article by a finance expert from RMIT University quoted from a report by the Australian Banking Association which revealed that cash only accounted for 13% of consumer payments in Australia as of the end of 2022, compared to 70% as recently as 2007. Around 40% of Australians were comfortable using a digital wallet, a figure that rose to around two-thirds in the 18 to 29 age group. And, of course, online shopping and online banking also avoid the need for cash transactions.
The COVID-19 pandemic had an influence on the move away from cash. Paying with a card or digital wallet meant we didn’t have to touch those possibly contaminated coins and banknotes. It certainly boosted online shopping, including for groceries. By 2022, according to efoodinsights.com, 48% of Australians were doing some food shopping online, with almost 15% ordering most or all of their groceries on the internet.
So, despite the huffing and puffing and talks of a KFC boycott, it’s quite likely that even more businesses, including fast food outlets, will eventually opt for cashless sales. There are plenty of advantages, at least for traders. They’re faster, tidier, no one can fiddle the till and no one gets mugged on the way to the bank.