Cash or Credit | State Library of New South Wales

Cash or Credit

When the colony was first established, no provision was made for an internal currency. This led to a chaotic period in which shoppers paid for purchases in a variety of ways, including barter (exchange of goods and services), coinage (varying currencies each with its own exchange rate), makeshift currencies such as rum (or any spirit) and personal or business promissory notes.

In 1813 Governor Lachlan Macquarie used the widespread system of ‘cutting’ coins to create
Australia’s first currency: the Holey Dollar and its ‘dump’. Australian pounds, shillings and pence were replaced by decimal currency on 14 February 1966.The buying power of the modern shopper was bolstered by the credit card.

Retailers introduced store charge plates in the 1960s, but shoppers needed to carry multiple cards. The launch of the Bankcard scheme in 1974, followed by Mastercard and Visa in 1984, revolutionised Australian retailing, while EFTPOS and ATM networks ushered in the era of cashless shopping.