Despite only a small number of its stores opting to go with a cashless policy, Woolworths has been accused of potentially further marginalising communities that depend on cash payments.
Woolworths has begun trialling a completely cashless policy at 10 of its Metro stores, including Woolworths at Yarraville and Caulfield North in Victoria and Rosebery in New South Wales.
It is understood that the stores chosen for the trial see less than 10 per cent cash transactions per month. The company has 1,050 stores across Australia, of which 99.4 per cent still offer a mix of cash and cashless payments.
Many of these stores are, additionally, in close proximity to one another.
Despite this, however, concerns have emerged the trial could marginalise communities dependent on cashless payments, including sex workers, homeless Australians, and people that need to remain anonymous, including those surviving abuse.
Australian author and journalist Benjamin Law, who applauded the move to a cashless policy on the grounds of public health, was one of the first people to sound the alarm for its social repercussions.
Hey @woolworths, totally applaud and welcome existing measures to minimise use of cash for public health and safety.
— Benjamin Law 羅旭能 (@mrbenjaminlaw) January 17, 2021
Woolworths said it would monitor the trial closely.
“As more and more customers choose to pay with cards, we’re trialling all electronic payments in a small selection of Metro stores which currently see very few cash transactions,” a Woolworths spokesperson told B&T.
“We understand cash remains an important payment option for many of our customers and it continues to be offered in all Woolworths Supermarkets and the majority of our Metro stores.
“We are closely monitoring the feedback from our customers during this trial.”
The move comes after payments platform Square found that one in three businesses has gone cashless during the coronavirus pandemic, between a reporting period of January 2020 to June 2020.
Featured image source: iStock/Viktoriia Hnatiuk