Reserve Bank community cash trials to start next year

Rural New Zealand communities lacking commercial bank over-the-counter or ATM cash services will be invited to take part in trials starting next year of new ways to help individuals and retailers withdraw and deposit cash.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua says in a statement that it will fund the trials, which will start next year in several communities. The trials will test new ways for people, including retailers, to withdraw and deposit cash, including change and takings, at little or no cost to them.

Ian Woolford, the Reserve Bank’s director of money and cash says the bank knows that New Zealanders, particularly in rural areas, still often rely on cash and “value the certainty and convenience it provides, including when electronic options aren’t available or are off-line as we saw for large parts of the country during Cyclone Gabrielle”.

“This research project recognises the important role of retailers in the cash system and will test ways of ensuring that cash remains easy to get, spend, give as change, and bank.”

Woolford says the Reserve Bank will be looking for two or three districts, “ideally with a few communities with populations of less than 10,000 that have lost most or all bank-provided counter and cash services. We’ll work with these communities to confirm their cash servicing needs and what possible solutions to trial.”

It will also invite national stakeholder groups to take an interest and provide advice. The trials will run for about 18 months to inform future Reserve Bank work to support cash use and the cash system.

“Electronic payments generally add to retailer and customer costs, but banks’ withdrawal from offering suitable local cash services make it harder and more costly for retailers and customers to use cash. We want the cash system to remain resilient, and retailers and individuals to continue to enjoy its social and economic benefits.

“As well as ensuring cash remains available and easy to use, keeping it circulating within communities is more cost and time efficient for everyone, and it’s better for the environment due to lowered demand for cash-related freight or travel,” says Woolford.

The Reserve Bank will provide full details on how communities and interested stakeholders can apply to participate in the trials in early 2024 and is now welcoming interest from people and organisations who want to receive these

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