Concern for elderly with future of cash up in the air

The future of cash in New Zealand is up in the air as consultations close today on our country's monetary system.

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The Reserve Bank is calling for proposed law changes, concerned retailers may stop accepting cash. Source: 1 NEWS

The Reserve Bank is calling for proposed law changes after concerns retailers may stop accepting cash when they’re not legally required to.

As the use of cash declines nationwide, the Reserve Bank wants the law amended to protect those who rely on it.

"There are pockets of society that are still reliant on cash so they're very young, they're very old, isolated people in rural communities so we feel like we need to have a cash system that is fit for purpose," the Reserve Bank Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby said.

A recent survey by the Reserve Bank found more than 80 per cent of New Zealanders use electronic bank cards as their main payment method. But seven per cent, or 330,000 Kiwis still rely on cash every day.

The two main groups who use it are the youth and the elderly.

Age Concern Chief Executive Stephanie Clare said cash was extremely important for the older community.

"We hear many stories about an older person being able to help in a local community by giving cash, giving cash to grandchildren helping their family out. It’s one of those things that they’ve grown up with, having something in their wallet in an emergency, something they can help their community with or actually just use."

Consultations close today on the Reserve Bank’s proposed law changes, which include requirements for banks to provide quality cash services to the public. Something Age Concern backs.

"I strongly support the Reserve Bank in supporting education of a programme that allows for cash to exist in society allows for us to have that choice but we do need to make sure we account for our older people and how they use their money," Ms Clare said.

But the Reserve Bank wants to take it further.

"At the moment there is no agency that has responsibility for the cash system so we're really putting our hands up and saying the Reserve Bank should have stewardship of the cash system to ensure that it evolves over time and meets the needs of society."