Towards a Digital Economy

Australia is making great strides in moving away from cheques and cash.

23 November 2016



Digital payments taking over from cheques

The Milestones Report(1) released today by the Australian Payments Clearing Association, the payments industry self-regulatory body, shows that the drop in cheque use in the 12 months to June 2016 is the greatest annual drop in the last decade.

Today’s report shows that cheque use dropped by 17.2% to 126.4 million. This compares to a 15.7% drop in 2015 and 13.5% in 2014. Since 2006, cheque use has dropped 73%. Cheques now only account for about one percent (1.2%) of all non-cash retail payments.

Cash use also continues to drop steadily. The number of ATM withdrawals dropped by 6.6% to 675.8 million - also the greatest annual drop in the last decade - having dropped 4.9% in 2015 and 4.2% in 2014.

In contrast, the use of digital payments is growing strongly:

  • Direct entry transactions (direct debit and direct credit) grew by 7.2% to 3.3 billion.
  • Card payments (credit and debit cards) grew by 12.1% to 7.0 billion.

APCA CEO, Leila Fourie said “Australia is making great strides in moving away from paper payments – both cheques and cash. This is important from an efficiency viewpoint, for customer convenience and for digital inclusion.”

Online payments are increasingly attractive to older Australians. Citing recent research, the Milestones Report notes that in 2015 more than half of internet users over the age of 65 made banking transactions online (53%) and just under a half (48%) had paid bills online

The Report also highlights that:

  • Australia is reported second in the world for smartphone use, with 77% of Australians owning a smartphone.

  • 7.7 million Australian households have internet access – this represents 86% of all households, up from 83% last year.

“Australia is leading the way in digital payments with continued strong growth in card payments, impressive smartphone penetration and improved digital literacy. The industry’s New Payments Platform will provide a stimulus for yet more innovation,” said Dr Fourie. 

The Report notes that the New Payments Platform, new national infrastructure for fast, flexible, data-rich payments, will further support the transition to digital payments. Other industry and government initiatives noted in the Report include:

  • The Australian Payments Council’s initiatives set out in the Australian Payments Plan

  • Electronic conveyancing for property settlement through the PEXA service

  • Government’s SuperStream for the superannuation system 

The Milestones Report and accompanying infographic are available at


1.  APCA releases regular Milestones Reports to review progress against the action plan it published in May 2012. See “The Decline of Cheques: Building a Bridge to the Digital Economy” 

Media Contact: Ida Turner, APCA Communications Tel: (02) 9216 4817 Mob: 0409 716 556 

Australian Payments Clearing Association Limited ABN 12 055 136 519
Level 6, 14 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000 Telephone +61 2 9216 4888 Facsimile +61 2 9221 8057