Australia sees sharp decline in EFTPOS terminals

EFTPOS Decline Australia

Australia lost nearly one-fifth of its EFTPOS terminals in FY2022, according to the latest APRA data – the largest year-on-year drop recorded since annual reporting began in 2017

Between June 2021 and June 2022, Australia had 150,000 fewer EFTPOS terminals issued by APRA-regulated entities (a drop from just over 849,500 terminals to 699,200), findings from the regulator’s Authorised deposit-taking institutions’ points of presence statistics survey reveal.

The decline is likely due to a multitude of factors, many of which stem from prolonged Covid lockdowns throughout the country between 2020 and 2021. This period saw a steady decline in trade by brick-and-mortar retailers (businesses that host the vast bulk of EFTPOS terminals) alongside a sharp increase in online retail transactions.

For instance, trade made by food service retailers, including cafes, takeaways and restaurants, fell from $3.95 billion to $1.95 billion in the three months between February to April 2020 – a nearly 50 per cent drop – while over the same period, clothing and personal accessory retail transactions fell from $2.10 billion to just $0.753 billion – a 36 per cent drop, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Conversely, online retail trade increased from $1.68 billion in February 2020 to $4.4 billion in September 2021, by which time widescale Covid lockdowns had largely ceased in Australia.

Moreover, an increasing preference by customers for online pre-payment and collection of goods and services (for example, food delivery services like Uber Eats or Menulog, or grocery retail giants’ Coles’ and Woolworths’ ‘Click and Collect’ schemes) may have also contributed to a decrease in customers’ use of, and retailers’ need for, in-house POS terminals.

Finally, an increasing push by non-ADI regulated entities (for instance, Square, the US-based owner of Afterpay, which operates in Australia under the ASIC-issued Australian Financial Services Licence) into the POS terminal space may have reduced retailers’ demand for solutions provided by traditional banks.

APRA’s Points of presence figures also showed the continuing shuttering of brick-and-mortar, or ‘physical’, bank branches.

Between 2021 and 2022, the branch network decreased by 7.1 per cent – which also aligns with the average rate of decline in branches over the last five years.

This rate of decline was, perhaps unsurprising, more acute in metropolitan areas (often more digitally connected and thus less dependent on branch services) which saw an 8.3 per cent decline in physical branches versus regional and remote areas, which on average saw a decline of 5.3 per cent.

The move to a ‘cashless economy’ also appears to be gathering pace, with fewer than half the number of ATMs available in Australia today than five years ago – dropping from a total of 13,814 in EoFY2017 to 6,412 in EoFY2022.