More than half a million debit cards are being issued to bank customers around Australia to help them shop online or use contactless transactions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fast-tracked by financial watchdog ASIC, the rollout of cards will be made to Australian Banking Association and Customer Owned Banking Association members who do not currently have a card.
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The fast-tracking of cards will allow recipients to shop online or over the phone, as well as use tap-and-go payments to access services in the community who have stopped using cash to minimise physical handling.
There is no requirement for the cards to be activated or used, and being a debit system recipients will not incur debt like they would with a credit card.
Ian Yates, Chief Executive of the Council on Ageing (COTA), said the initiative will alleviate some of the concerns shared by Australia’s ageing population.
“COTA has received many calls during the COVID-19 period expressing concern that people struggled to purchase essential goods and services because some retailers stopped accepting cash,” Mr Yates said.
“COTA Australia thanks COBA and its member banks for stepping up to provide a rapid response for their older customers, and ASIC for flexibly permitting this to happen.”
Despite the reluctance on businesses to use cash, there has been relatively little evidence that cash increases the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Businesses are legally allowed to dictate the payment terms required by customers, as long as requirements such as EFTPOS only are made clear before the transaction has begun.
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