New report highlights the economic benefits of electronic payments, as contactless payments in Australia reach new high


Visa, the global payments technology company, has revealed the results of a new global study examining the economic impact of digital payments, with Sydney and Canberra standing to gain up to an additional AUD$13.3 billion annually in total direct net benefits, by further reducing reliance on cash.

Cashless Cities (‘the Study’) was commissioned by Visa and conducted by Roubini Thoughtlab. It quantifies the potential net benefits of a further move to digital payments for businesses, consumers and governments. The Study found:

  • Businesses in Sydney could achieve up to AUD$9.84 billion in direct net benefits per year, with Canberra potentially achieving more than AUD$798 million, from factors including time savings in payments and increased sales revenues stemming from an extended customer base, both online and in-store.
  • Consumers across Sydney and Canberra could achieve nearly AUD$851 million per year, in estimated direct net benefits from factors including time savings from direct banking, retail and transit transactions. Globally, consumers stand to gain a full working day (8 hours) in time back per year on average in the move to digital payments.
  • Governments stand to benefit from various factors that include increased tax revenues, increased economic growth, and cost savings from efficiencies. Governments also stand to benefit indirectly through greater employment and wage growth.
  • Of the 100 cities studied, Sydney and Canberra are among only nine considered ‘Digital Leaders’ – a description given to the cities with populations that are nearly fully banked, developed banking and digital payments systems, and high digital payments usage and readiness rates.

The Study comes at a time when contactless payments in Australia have reached a new high, now representing 92% of Visa face-to-face transactions, up from just over 80% earlier this year1 .

Stephen Karpin, Group Country Manager for Visa in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific said: “Australia is leading the way in its move to digital payments, with Australian businesses, especially retailers, already benefiting from the operational efficiencies and additional customers that digital payments from international networks can bring”.  

An April 2017 report by RFi showed four in five (80%) retailers in Australia see contactless payments as benefiting their business, with 68% citing the speed of service as the key benefit, followed by a reduction in cash handling (50%), and increased sales (41%)2 .

Consumers are also benefiting from the move to digital payments and for the first time the Study shows the time they can save. For example, globally consumers could save more than a full working day of time per year on average, just by changing the way they pay. 

“Consumers want to transparently track and control their finances, be secure in every transaction both here or overseas, and have the payment convenience to suit their lifestyles, whether this be via card, mobile, wearable or e-commerce,” added Karpin.

While many businesses and consumers are already feeling these benefits, the Study shows Australia could go further to realise the positive impacts of digital payments, with continued collaboration needed to drive the economy forward. 

“Visa is committed to working alongside financial institutions, retailers, governments and the country’s thriving start-up community to ensure Australia maintains its position as a digital leader.  This requires incentivising innovation at all levels,” Karpin said. 

Demonstrating its commitment, Visa recently ran its second annual Visa Everywhere Initiative in Australia and New Zealand to accelerate the future of commerce and support the co-creation of new payments innovations. The competition challenged Australian and New Zealand startups to use Visa capabilities to develop new payments solutions. 


1 VisaNet, September 2017
2 Online survey of 1,005 merchants in Australia in April 2017


Media contact
Samantha Vogts
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About Visa Inc. 

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network - enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of connected commerce on any device, and a driving force behind the dream of increased digital payments for everyone, everywhere.  As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit, and @VisaNews.

About Cashless Cities 

The study, conducted by Roubini ThoughtLab, provides granular data for six cities in various stages of economic development and payments maturity. The data was derived by surveying 3,000 consumers and 900 businesses in those six cities. The net benefit figures for the 100 cities covered in this study are approximations based on a combination of primary survey data gathered from across a sample of six representative cities globally, and secondary data from well-recognised organisations such as the World Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Association of Public Transport (UITP), and McKinsey & Company.

These numbers are quoted in AUD, with an exchange rate of 1USD = 1.33AUD, effective as of 2015, The net direct benefits are estimated on an annual basis, while the catalytic impact (GDP, employment, wages, and productivity) estimates are projected for the next 15 years (2017-2032).

About Visa’s Everywhere Initiative

Visa's Everywhere Initiative is an innovation program designed to encourage the next big thing in payments, as the payments industry shifts from plastic to digital and new entrants join traditional stakeholders in payments. The program first launched in the U.S. in 2015 and quickly expanded into a global program with more than 2,000 participating start-ups, which have collectively raised over $2 billion in funding, with more than 125 finalists and 34 winners selected. The program is being run in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa in 2017 touching 40 countries.