Research Discussion Paper – RDP 2020-06 Consumer Payment Behaviour in Australia: Evidence from the 2019 Consumer Payments Survey


Since 2007 the Reserve Bank has conducted a Consumer Payments Survey (CPS) every three years, which provides comprehensive information on how Australians make their payments. The 2019 CPS was conducted just before the emergence of COVID-19 in Australia and gives a detailed snapshot of consumer payment behaviour prior to the changes in spending patterns induced by the pandemic. The survey provided further evidence that Australian consumers increasingly prefer to use electronic payment methods rather than cash for their day-to-day payments. Many people now tap their cards (or sometimes phones) even for small purchases. When paying with a card in person or online, consumers are more often choosing to use a debit card rather than a credit card. As a result, debit cards were the most frequently used consumer payment method in the 2019 survey. Consumers are also increasingly taking advantage of the ability to make payments using a range of innovative new payment services that have emerged in recent years, often facilitated by mobile technology and the use of digital payment credentials. Despite the trend towards electronic payments, cash still accounted for a significant share of lower-value payments and a material proportion of the population continue to make many of their payments in cash.