RDP 2020-06: Consumer Payment Behaviour in Australia: Evidence from the 2019 Consumer Payments Survey 1. Introduction

The Reserve Bank conducted its fifth triennial Consumer Payments Survey (CPS) in October and November 2019.[1] The CPS provides comprehensive data on how Australian consumers make their payments as well as qualitative information on payment preferences and attitudes. It is one of the main sources of information on the use of cash – for transactions and other purposes – in the Australian economy. Just over 1,100 people participated in the 2019 CPS, recording details of every transaction they made for a week as well as providing additional information in a post-survey questionnaire. As in previous survey waves, participants were recruited so that the sample was representative of the Australian population.

The way in which Australians are making payments is changing. New payment methods are emerging, often enabled by mobile technology, while transactional use of cash is declining. Accordingly, the 2019 CPS asked participants to report more information than in previous surveys on their use of newer electronic payment methods and channels, as well as in-depth information on their use of and attitudes towards cash. The CPS was conducted before the emergence of COVID-19 in Australia, which has induced substantial changes in payment behaviour. Accordingly, it provides a valuable snapshot of consumers' payment patterns and preferences immediately prior to the pandemic.

This paper discusses the results of the 2019 CPS in the context of a changing retail payments system. It focuses on consumers' use of cash, payment cards and non-traditional ‘alternative’ payment methods, as well as insights into people's payment attitudes and preferences.[2]


Roy Morgan Research conducted the fieldwork for the survey. For a summary of the results of the 2019 CPS see Caddy et al (2020). [1]

See Doyle et al (2017), Ossolinksi, Lam and Emery (2014), Bagnall, Chong and Smith (2011) and Emery, West and Massey (2008) for analyses of earlier CPS waves. [2]