Macquarie Bank makes digital-only transition

Australia’s fifth-largest bank, Macquarie Bank (ASX: MQG), declared its intentions on Wednesday to gradually phase out cash, cheque, and phone payment services within its 80 branches, commencing in January 2024. This strategic shift is aligned with the broader industry trend towards digital-only transactions. By November 2024, Macquarie Bank is set to eliminate all in-branch cash transactions.

The bank outlined its comprehensive plan, indicating that between January and November 2024, it will progressively retire cash and cheque services across all Macquarie banking and wealth management products, encompassing pension and superannuation accounts. The first step in this transformation will be the discontinuation of new chequebooks for cash management accounts, including any linked Macquarie Wrap accounts, starting in January.

In another noteworthy development, the automated telephone banking service will be shuttered in March 2024, rendering phone-based payments obsolete. By May 2024, depositing or withdrawing cash or cheques over the counter at Macquarie branches will become a thing of the past. Furthermore, the ability to order chequebooks for existing accounts will be discontinued from May.

Looking ahead to November 2024, the curtain will fall on writing or depositing cheques, including bank cheques, and superannuation contributions or payments facilitated by cheques will cease. Customers will also bid adieu to the option of depositing or withdrawing cash over the counter at NAB branches, as Macquarie Bank makes its final stride towards a cashless future.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to note that customers will still retain the ability to withdraw cash from their transaction accounts via ATMs both within Australia and abroad without incurring fees. However, traditional cash deposits and branch withdrawals will no longer be part of the banking landscape.

Macquarie Bank, with a substantial customer base exceeding one million retail clients and a market capitalisation hovering just under $69 billion, is renowned for its strategic focus on asset management rather than conventional retail banking. Despite this orientation, it continues to offer vital retail banking services, including car and home loans, savings, and transaction accounts.

The bank’s announcement has triggered a diverse array of responses, with customers and consumer advocates expressing a mix of views. While some harbour concerns about the implications of an entirely cashless society, particularly for those reliant on cash transactions, others view this transition as an inevitable progression within the evolving financial landscape. Macquarie Bank’s embrace of digital-only transactions underscores the industry’s relentless drive towards innovation and efficiency in an era defined by technological advancements.

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