The Prime Minister may still use cash when buying a pie in the Illawarra, but for many cafes cash is no longer king.
Cash has been banned at some eateries, while others told the Mercury only 10-20 per cent of their customers pay cash, with most preferring to tap and go.
During a visit to Kiama's Earnest Arthur bakery in February 2023 Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid cash for a pie, but owner Alex Dicker said the PM is in the minority.
"It would be a lot easier if we didn't have to do cash. It's a big time-waster," Mr Dicker said.
Only 15 per cent of his customers pay cash, and the time it takes to count the money, package it up, take it to the bank and deposit it, is time Mr Dicker said he could be improving his business.
Cash payments make him worry about the safety of his staff, especially after a safe was stolen from his South Nowra cafe during a ramraid a few years ago.
"It's something that I think about every single afternoon when I count the cash. I worry about 'am I putting staff at risk knowing I have cash?'," he said.
At Bean Roasted in Shellharbour, around 20 per cent of people pay by cash, staff member Matt Campbell said.
"Most people who pay this way ask if it's OK to pay by cash," he said.
"Card's easier from an end-of-day perspective for the business."
Mr Campbell, like Mr Dicker, both don't carry a wallet anymore and pay for purchases with their phone.
Cash is banned at Wollongong's Goodies Coffee, and Bread, Espresso & (located in Thirroul, Gwynneville and North Wollongong).
Three Flamingos Espresso owner Brad Pettitt said banning cash payments is discrimination, and there's "no way" he'd implement that into his Albion Park cafe.
Like Mr Dicker, he's also been victim to a hold-up and was robbed at gunpoint years ago when working in a Sydney bar.
We still get a lot of our tradies in the morning who pay cash and a lot don't like the fees they have to pay for using their card.- Blackbird Thirroul owner Chris Henry
Mr Pettitt said while card payments are easier, they result in payment delays from the bank.
"If you come in on a Thursday or Friday, we may not get the money [from the bank] until Monday," he said.
Blackbird Thirroul owner Chris Henry said since the Commonwealth Bank shut its Thirroul branch he needs to travel to Corrimal to deposit any cash takings.
"You are at bigger risk of losing money along the way," he said.
Despite the challenges and risk of theft, Mr Henry's not going to ban cash either.
"We still get a lot of our tradies in the morning who pay cash and a lot don't like the fees they have to pay for using their card," he said.
KFC has made a number of its outlets cashless. The retailer did not respond to the Mercury's requests for comments on whether this would happen to any Illawarra stores.
A statement issued by McDonald's said it had no plans to go cashless at this stage.
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