Pilot project to improve Cashless Debit Card technology

The Morrison Government is introducing new technology to allow cash registers at pubs, clubs and independent grocers to automatically reject items banned by the Cashless Debit Card.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said a pilot project is being set up at eight businesses in trial sites selling a combination of restricted and unrestricted products which would otherwise require staff to personally identify the card before putting a sale through.

“If successful all Australian businesses will be able to accept the Cashless Debit Card, increasing consumer choice and eliminating criticism that the card creates stigma at the checkout,” Minister Ruston said.

“We want to make sure for those Australians using the card the experience is no different to anyone else going into any shop and paying using their bank or credit card.”

While the card is automatically accepted at about 900,000 businesses across the country, those which also sell restricted products must be signed up to accept the card under an agreement that restricted products must not be sold to people paying with a Cashless Debit Card.

The pilot is aimed specifically at assisting small businesses. Major retailers such as Woolworths, Coles and Australia Post already automatically block purchases.

Known as product level blocking, the business’ PIN Pad would recognise when a Cashless Debit Card was being used and automatically decline the transaction if the shopping basket includes restricted products.

The customer would then be able to simply remove the items they know to be banned and the transaction would then go through as usual.

It will also allow the Government to crackdown on workarounds by providing a quick and simple process in which to block new restricted items when they come on to the market.

The Government is working with leading IT services company DXC Technology to develop product level blocking and is engaging with the banks to make changes to their PIN Pads.

The Cashless Debit Card quarantines 80 per cent* of welfare recipients’ payments so the money cannot be spent on alcohol, drugs or gambling or to withdraw as cash.

“It is a personal development, capacity and financial literacy tool aimed at reducing the social harm caused by welfare fuelled drug and alcohol misuse and problem gambling,” Minister Ruston said.

*Under the Bill currently before Parliament existing and new participants in the NT and Cape York will continue to have the same proportion of their welfare payments quarantined as under existing income management arrangements, which is generally 50 per cent.