While EFTPOS is easily taken for granted, there seems to be growing interest in the service, with the latest data showing an 11% increase in swipes between July 2011 and 2012.
According to EFTPOS Australia statistics, the month of July saw $250,000 worth of purchases processed every minute for the whole 31 days of the month.
The total worked out to be over 200 million EFTPOS transactions worth more than $11.7 billion.
In a statement about these record-breaking numbers, Managing Director Bruce Mansfield said that the only other time EFTPOS transaction volumes had exceeded 200 million in a single month was in December 2011, during the busy Christmas retail period.
“The EFTPOS network now carries a little over half of the card transactions in Australia,” he said.
“This demonstrates the increasing role that debit and EFTPOS play in the Australian payments landscape, as more people move to take control of their spending and away from credit.”
It seems the old credit versus debit debate is leaning firmly in favour of the latter, with EFTPOS data also backed up by information from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).
The RBA found that in there was almost 700 million debit card transactions in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 15% on figures from last year.
Credit cards, in contrast, saw only a 7% increase in use to 430 million transactions for the quarter.
Playing A Bigger Role
This trend towards debit card payments could be for any number of reasons, but with more than a 50% slice of the transactions, it pays off to look at why we are turning to EFTPOS.
One of the most interesting things about this system is that it allows you to do more than simply pay for purchases.
According to Mansfield, getting cash out when you pay by card is also on the rise.
“During July, there were 23.2 million cash out transaction on EFTPOS, representing a value of more than $1.4 billion and a 5% increase compared to the same period in 2011,” he said.
While purchase-only transactions increased more (8.7% between July 2011-12), it does suggest we are getting our notes from shops rather than ATMs – potentially saving you from fees that come if you use another bank’s ATM network.
In general, however, cash seems to be sitting for longer periods in our wallets, particularly when it comes to larger purchases.
Data from RFi Intelligence shows that cash comes second to cards for larger purchases and day-to-day spending on things like petrol.
The company said these results make it clear that “cash may not be going away any time soon, but it looks like it will soon have a smaller part to play in the everyday life of Australian consumers.”
Contact Climbing For Cards
One of the reasons for an increase in card use, according to RFi, is the widespread introduction of contactless cards.
To make a contactless payment, you simply tap or wave your card in front of a reader and wait for the transaction to be approved. Any purchase under $100 does not even require a PIN or signature.
Now that contactless terminals are available in major shops like Coles, Woolworths and even McDonald’s, more and more people are taking advantage of the convenience.
A survey conducted by RFi showed that over 40% of Australians had a contactless card, an increase of 21% from June 2011.
The system does not run on EFTPOS, but at the BankTech2012 conference in Sydney this year Mansfield said contactless options were being considered.
“Many consumers as well as members of Eftpos Payments Australia had been calling for EMV and contact less payment at the same time to give consumers choice.”
He said trials of the technology would finish towards the end of 2012 and implementation was set to begin in 2013.
So whether you have a contactless card now, or are still waiting for one, the odds are that you will gradually end up swiping your cards less.
The Future For Debit
As more cards transition to contactless options, a world of payment options could open up for your debit card accounts.
One of the latest developments in the US is virtual or digital wallets – services that allow you to store card details on a server and use your phone (instead of cards) to pay for purchases.
Similar options have started to come up here as well, with Commbank offering payments through its Kaching App, and NAB and Westpac among others developing smartphone-based options.
That could mean you do not have to worry if you leave your wallet at home when you dash off to get milk, or if you want to travel light for a night out.
Banks seem to be on the money with this technology as well – according to RFI, more than 25% of mobile phone owners in Australia said they would probably use their phone for contactless payments in the coming year.
But whether you use these services now, in a few years or even further down the line, considering how you pay for things will help you manage money even more efficiently.