Kiwi millennials pave the way to a cashless society.

New Zealand, thanks to its millennial generation, is among countries leading the global charge to a cashless society.

Just nine per cent of Kiwi millennials (those aged 18 – 35) use cash at all, while overall two-thirds of us no longer carry change in our pockets.

These figures, contained in a 2018 survey commissioned by Mastercard New Zealand, compare to a recent international study by Paris-based market research company Ipsos in which just 34 per cent of people in the United States and 21 per cent across 13 European countries say they rarely use cash anymore.

But the survey also showed 78 per cent of people in these countries expect to use less cash over the coming year.


The New Zealand survey, carried out in January by Auckland company Perceptive Research, shows cash may soon be a thing of the past. Only a miniscule seven per cent of Kiwis carry cash as the main form of payment, two-thirds don't carry any at all, and 48 per cent believe it will be gone the way of the dinosaurs within a decade.

The evolution of contactless payment has led to a paradigm shift when it comes to monetary transactions – it's much simpler to 'tap-and-go' than pay any other way.

Millennials are leading the charge here too – 84 per cent of them saying they have used contactless technology (compared to 73 per cent overall).

Ruth Riviere, Country Manager for Mastercard New Zealand and Pacific Islands, says New Zealand has been an early and enthusiastic adopter of contactless technology: "It's the simplest and quickest way to pay."

She says it is fast becoming expected – 31 per cent of us feeling frustrated when it's not offered at checkouts.

Kate Chatsunthornwong, manager of Dumpling Box in Auckland, says she knew contactless technology was the way to go when she opened her franchise in June last year because it would allow people to save time during their lunchtimes.

"Lunch is our busiest time, with rush hour between 12.30 and 2.30pm - so the faster we can process our transactions the more customers we can serve our dumplings, bao buns and crepes," she says.

"When people come in for lunch they don't have time to wait in line. If everybody uses contactless the process is much faster and the queue goes down a lot quicker."

She estimates around 75 per cent of her customers make use of contactless technology and because most purchases are under $20 tap-and-go makes sense.

"Often customers ask if we offer tap-and-go technology before they order so we definitely get more sales because of this," Chatsunthornwong says.

Riviere says tap-and-go - which can also be used for purchases over $80 with tap and PIN – is much quicker than cash or other electronic payment transactions and allows for speedier processing. Z Energy recently switched to contactless payments for example, a move saving seven seconds per customer.

"It may not sound like much, but taken over a day, it's significant.

"Electronic payments are so much more convenient than cash. It's also much safer not having to carry cash around in your pocket," she says.

Another key aspect of contactless technology is it can be used worldwide – meaning no more queuing to change currency when travelling.

Riviere says more countries are embracing it – Australians are enthusiastic users, as are those in the UK and Nordic countries: "In fact, Nordic countries are almost entirely cashless already with recent reports showing these people only process five per cent of their transactions with cash."

As technology evolves Riviere says there will be more options for paying without cash. Smartphone users are already able to use their phones for transactions, smartwatches hit the New Zealand market in the middle of last year and there are gadgets – such as a payment ring developed in Australia – soon to be available.

All of these devices use contactless payment technology.

For more information setting up contactless enabled terminals in your business, see