A significant trend though is the replacement of cash by cards. Cash has traditionally been the payment method choice in the low-value arena, particularly up to $20. It has been in this lower-value segment where tap and go technology has delivered benefits to cardholders and to merchants with a very much faster and simplified experience at point of sale.
One result has been a decline in the average value of a purchase made with a personal credit card from over $131 five years ago to less than $120 in 2014.
Statistical data released by the RBA in January 2015 shows tap-and-go transactions accounted for 23 per cent of the number of card transactions in 2013, with swiped or inserted credit cards at 37 per cent and swiped or inserted debit at 41 per cent.
The figures were higher for supermarkets where tap and go was at 28 per cent and at petrol retailers where it was 26 per cent.
Unsurprisingly, given tap and go targets transactions under $100, the median transaction value for tap and go at $26 is lower than for transactions where the card is swiped or inserted with credit at $45 and debit at $32.
The one exception is at petrol retailers where the median tap and go value of $50 just exceeds swiped or inserted credit at $49 and debit at $40.
The displacement of cash by cards has been considerable. The withdrawal of cash at ATMs is a good indicator of cash use and we see the annual total value of cash transactions per debit and credit card combined has dropped by 25 per cent over the last five years. In 2009, the total exceeded $6,400 per cardholder but that had dropped to below $4,800 in 2014.