We might be living in a cashless society post COVID-19. These are the little-known impacts.

Pre-coronavirus, cash was already becoming a thing of the past.

But now use of coin and note currency is basically nonexistent in our new germ-terrified world, with many businesses refusing to take it.

While there are plenty of benefits to using digital money – the ease of a card, the lack of coin weighing you down, and of course, the whole cleanliness aspect – for many this new normal throws up some worrying challenges.

Domestic violence victims.

Financial abuse is one of the most common forms of domestic violence, and having cash can, in many cases, be vital for victims trying to escape.

A report in late March showed a dramatic increase in both the demand and complexity of domestic and family violence cases as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, and up to 90 per cent of domestic violence victims are also affected by financial abuse.

A cashless society could impact those trying to flee violent relationships. Image: Getty.

Cash from friends and family might be key to helping someone make a quick escape. There's no paper trail with hold- it-in-your-hands money.

"Having access to cash could make it easier for someone to put together a safety bag or consider their escape options," 1800RESPECT National Program Manager Melonie Sheehan told Mamamia.

"However it is important to know that if a person does not have access to cash, free support is available. By contacting 1800RESPECT, an individual can be referred to organisations that provide financial assistance, including financial support and management, housing assistance, debt assistance and employment services. Regardless of your access to cash, you can recover from financial abuse," she added.


Head of Customer Vulnerability at the Commonwealth Bank Moo Baulch adds that "having access to cash, safe online banking and other banking products is vital for most people contemplating or leaving an abusive relationship. It is about having choice – a choice of access to safe economic resources."

She points out that it's not a one size fits all fix.

Listen to Moo Baulch on No Filter. Post continues after podcast.

"For example, it might mean opening a new hidden online bank account if you don’t have your own and saving a small amount of money at a time. For others, who are denied all access to banking or accounts, financial safety planning may mean hiding small loose change."


One of the most devastating effects of a cash free economy, is the difficulties this will present to the country's most vulnerable.

"Sorry I've only got card" is now an easy excuse for the hurried passerby as they walk by a rough sleeper with a sign for a few spare dollars.

There are many homeless Australians who rely on coin handouts to survive.

WATCH: Formerly homeless share what they desperately needed. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

Sunny Street is a mobile health centre for homeless people in QLD and as director Sonia Goodwin told Mamamia: "For people begging on the streets, a cashless society would certainly impact an individual or family on the street. This means no cash for petrol, food and also for medications."


"Twice last week we were asked for $3 for petrol, and several times a week across our clinics we are asked for cash to pay for medications for people," she added.

In Europe, there are tech companies seeking to help those that are being short-changed. 'Greater Change', backed by Oxford University has created wearable bar-codes for rough sleepers, while non-profit TAP London has installed 100 contactless donation points in cafes, shops, and theatres across the city.

In the Netherlands, 'Helping Heart' is a contactless payment jacket.

As cashless becomes a more permanent reality, a contactless solution might have to be considered on our shores, too.

Older Australians.

Australia has an ageing population, a large proportion of which aren't equipped to deal with the online world.

According to the Australian Banking Association there are over half a million Australians who use a passbook account or transaction account with no linked debit card.

During the coronavirus pandemic, banks have been emailing out free debit cards to those customers (who are predominately over 70).

This sounds great in theory, but teaching older Australians the preferred method presents another problem entirely.


A lack of cash floating around is having affects on charity fundraising, many of which traditionally rely on spare change and donation tins.

While bigger charities have already moved more towards digital giving, COVID-19 might force many smaller charities into the space earlier than they anticipated.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly encouraged us to try different ways of fundraising at Cancer Council NSW. We’ve even had to pivot some typically offline campaigns - Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea for example - to become virtual. For this campaign, we created a whole new concept within a matter of weeks in response to the changing environment. COVID has changed the way we do things as we learn to live in this new normal, but we’re adapting,” Adelaide Thompson, Campaigns Unit Manager at Cancer Council NSW told Mamamia.

As a UK study found after surveying 400 charities, 23 per cent of them do not have the facility to receive any kind of digital donation or adapt in the way Cancer Council NSW has been able to


Teaching kids about the value of money.

Not having easy-to-grab cash for the tooth fairy, school lunch, and pocket money isn't just an annoyance for mum or dad.

By removing the use of cash in front of children, they potentially lose the ability to learn valuable lessons about money. If they can't see it, how do they truly learn to value it?

kids savings pocket money piggy bank
Will piggy banks disappear for good? Image: Getty.

Research from MyState Bank found 67 per cent of parents believe the shift to a cashless world will leave their kids financially worse off, with a third saying their children have made purchases without permission via apps, eBay, or Uber Eats.

As Zenith Payments general manager Michelle Rowcliff told Yahoo Finance: "It’s important to add dialogue to spending and involve them in the process from a younger age. If you use a credit or debit card to pay for dinner, let them see or add up the bill.” Or if you’re shopping online a lot, get your children involved when you compare costs.

"Understanding the value of money regardless of its form is a valuable skill kids must learn."

Feature image: Getty.