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Digital wallet use soars amid COVID-19 restrictions

Digital wallet transactions have hit record numbers amid the coronavirus outbreak as users move away from cash transactions, according to new data.

Digital wallet users spent $1 billion in a record number of transactions in March, amid the physical and social restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from a major bank.

The latest analysis from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), derived from Visa and Mastercard, found that total digital wallet transaction spend in March increased by 17 per cent from February.

It outpaced the average monthly compound growth rate of 6.7 per cent over the past six months.

The average spend per transaction was $28, reflecting how widespread digital wallet spending has become in Australia.


The number of digital wallet transactions by CBA customers also increased at a faster rate than the average monthly compound growth rate of 4.4 per cent over the past six months. The rate of transactions in March was up 8 per cent from February.

There were 36 million transactions in March, compared with 33 million in February.

The data also found that 77 per cent of overall transaction spend in March was on a debit card. However, the use of the credit card still grew by 21 per cent month-on-month compared with February. Debit card spend grew 16 per cent month-on-month.

CBA executive general manager of everyday banking, Kate Crous, said the increase in the number of contactless purchases has been evident since the introduction of Apple Pay last year, but the current environment meant people viewed this method of payment as safe and secure.

“In the current environment, paying without cash is an important way to protect yourself and others against the spread of coronavirus,” Ms Crous said.

CBA’s analysis was derived from Visa and Mastercard and looked at digital wallet spend through CBA Tap & Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay.


This data followed a recent announcement from the self-regulatory body for the payments industry, Australian Payments Network (AusPayNet) that the PIN limit for contactless card payments has been temporarily increased from $100 to $200 to minimise the need for physical contact with the payment terminal in supermarkets.

“The increased contactless card limit is a fantastic step; however, where possible we’re encouraging our customers to use digital wallets as they have the added safety of not needing to enter a PIN on the PIN pad no matter how much they spend, as it instead leverages touch ID or Face ID,” Ms Crous said.

[Related: COVID-19 will have ‘dramatic effect’ on mortgage process]

Digital wallet use soars amid COVID-19 restrictions
digital wallet

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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.

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