Senator Backs Woolworths’ Cash Withdrawal Limit Cut

Senator Gerard Rennick, a key figure in the investigation into diminishing banking services, has endorsed Woolworths’ controversial decision to lower its cash withdrawal limits. Rennick, a member of the government committee probing bank closures in rural Australia, stated to that Woolworths is not a bank and shouldn’t bear the burden of providing cash.

He criticised Australian banks for shifting the responsibility of cash provision to other entities like post offices and supermarkets. This stance follows a report by detailing ANZ’s cessation of handling smaller cash denominations at some branches and Woolworths’ move to cap withdrawals at $200 per transaction, along with introducing a mandatory purchase for cash withdrawals.

Woolworths reduced the withdrawal limit in September from $500 to $200. Their spokesperson explained the change as a response to the declining use of cash in transactions, although they acknowledged cash’s continued importance for some customers.

The reduction coincides with the closure of bank branches and removal of ATMs. Several Woolworths customers have expressed disappointment, as they relied on the supermarket for cash withdrawals due to bank and ATM closures or to avoid fees at non-bank ATMs. Customers shared frustrations about the limitations and inconvenience this change has caused.

A Woolworths customer noted that the limit was likely due to high demand for cash withdrawals, especially from ANZ customers. Another voiced concerns about the hassle of withdrawing cash, either facing limits at Woolworths or incurring charges at ATMs.

Despite some customer grievances, several Reddit users supported Woolworths’ decision, emphasising that supermarkets are not banks. Meanwhile, a Coles spokesperson confirmed their cash withdrawal limits of $300 at self-service and $400 at staffed checkouts, requiring a purchase, and mentioned no plans to change this policy. A Coles employee mentioned a $200 limit at their store, attributing it to high demand and limited cash availability.

Senator Rennick dismissed the notion that Australians are largely abandoning cash for digital banking. He highlighted that a significant portion of the population still relies on cash, especially small businesses, older Australians, immigrants, and community groups.

RBA governor Michele Bullock acknowledged the declining use of cash but emphasised its importance for certain groups and as a backup during emergencies. She called for the banking industry, government, and RBA to collaborate in maintaining cash access, particularly in remote areas, noting the challenges in sustaining cash services due to reduced usage.

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