Shalom Markets coordinator Peter Barone.
Shalom Markets coordinator Peter Barone. Mike Knott BUN301212SHA2

Welfare card roll-out obscures future of cash-only markets

WITH a number of different markets, pop-up shops and roadside fruit and veg stalls sprawled across the region, the question remains: will these small businesses be affected by the arrival of the cashless card?

Shalom Markets coordinator Peter Barone said the fear of what the rollout would mean for businesses who only took cash was a real one.

"It certainly has been a concern for me and stall holders," he said.

"Bundaberg can be a cash-driven economy a lot of the time, so this is definitely on our radar."

Mr Barone has been in talks with Hinkler MP Keith Pitt for some time, attempting to handle things before they grew into real issues.

"I have spoken to the politicians that were wanting to introduce this card and looking into how people could access their money," he said.

"Mr Pitt said they'd look at a way to use the card more readily to buy their fruit and vegetables and clothes from stall holders."

Because of the trial expansion, Mr Barone said a lot of stallholders were starting to buy Eftpos machines.

"It's on the radar. We're all looking at ways people will be able to buy local products and produce.

"We haven't just sat on our hands."

Mr Pitt confirmed he'd been speaking to Mr Barone since last year.

"The Department of Social Services is planning to have further discussions with Mr Borone in his role as market coordinator," he told the NewsMail.

"The Government acknowledges we do not live in a totally cashless society.

"Cashless Debit Card participants have access to 20 per cent of their payment that they can withdraw as cash to use in circumstances where only cash is accepted, for example at school events, fetes, and farmers markets.

"Other arrangements for specific events can also be put in place to facilitate the use of the card.

"This said, over time more and more places accept card payments while the use of cash is declining.

"Ultimately, it's a decision for each individual business as to how they run their business and that includes whether they offer Eftpos.

"I understand there are a range of options, some very inexpensive, for businesses."

Mr Pitt referred the NewsMail to a fact sheet and frequently asked questions on the Department of Social Services website.

The department also offers a free hotline for cashless debit card inquiries at 1800 252 604.

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