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Rural Towns Invited To Apply For Cash Service Trials As Challenges For Cash Users Grow

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua is opening applications for towns wanting to trial either local cash depots with automated cash banking facilities that work with all banks, or a security van service.

“Retailers and their customers are frustrated by cash banking difficulties, especially in rural New Zealand,” says Ian Woolford, the Reserve Bank’s Director of Money and Cash.

“New Zealanders still value the option of using cash, and we want to see if better local cash infrastructure, and supporting retailers to readily offer cash-outs will help keep the option available.

“Since announcing the trials in December we’ve received nearly 80 expressions of interest. Towns need to have populations between 1,000 and 10,000 residents, and to have lost most or all cash banking services to be considered eligible for the trials,” Mr Woolford says.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank published today its latest two-yearly postal survey of cash use and payments preferences, which confirms continuing decline in New Zealanders’ use of cash for everyday purposes. Respondents using cash use for everyday purposes fell to 57.2% in 2023, down from 60.4% in 2021 and 95.8% in 2019.

“People living in rural areas found it harder to access cash services, like withdrawal and deposit, than those living in urban areas. Overall, the top reason given by respondents for difficulty accessing cash services was that there was no ATM or bank branch in their area. This reinforces the rationale for the trials,” says Mr Woolford.

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“The Reserve Bank is committed to ensure that New Zealanders can continue to access, use, and bank cash as they need or prefer. Alongside the trials we have work underway to define a reasonable level of cash access that Kiwis can expect, and to develop tools to ensure that level of access is met.

Town applications close on 7 June 2024.

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