In a world functioning in an increasing digital age, transactions paid by bankcard are becoming the popular preference, particularly for members of younger generations. With the rise of COVID-19, the health and safety of all aspects of our lives have been brought the forefront of discussions. With questions still looming as to how the COVID-19 virus is contracted and spread, leading health experts are warning individuals and businesses to exercise caution given the significant risk of COVID-19 virus being spread through personal contact and objects.

In this regard, cash payments have come under scrutiny and banned by some Businesses. Many businesses appear to be actively implementing policies and new procedures to minimise any unnecessary handling of objects, touching of surfaces and personal contact that could result in avoidable contamination. With an increasing number of customers and clients already paying for the majority of goods and services via EFT transfer or bank card, a significant number of businesses have now advised they no longer accept cash, opting to accept card only payments indefinitely.

But just how legal is it this? And, where does this leave our citizens who do not have bankcards?

Every sale, transaction, dealing or liability to pay, money in Australia is to be done in Australian currency. Unless agreed between parties, they may accept payment in the currency of another country.

There is no law however against a provider of good and services setting terms upon which they will accept payment before the contract for the supply of goods or services. For example, signs before you order a coffee saying they will not accept cash or on a parking metre indicating they will not accept coins of a low denomination.

However, refusal to accept legal tender in payment of an existing debt, where no other means of payment or settlement has been specified in advance, possibly could have consequences in legal proceedings. For example, the creditor may be unable to enforce payment in any other form.

In summary, the answer is “yes” a business can legally refuse a cash payment.

However, if you are a citizen who does not have the ability to pay by card such as persons to young to own a debit card or a more senior citizen, we suggest contacting businesses to confirm they are still accepting cash before making the journey there. If this business is the only place you can obtain the good or service, we suggest explaining your situation to the business so that they understand why you must pay cash. This may see them accept your cash payment.

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