High levels of cash usage in the South African economy are estimated to have cost consumers R23bn in 2015, with low-income consumers worst affected, a Mastercard study shows. Low-income earners forfeit 4% of their earnings on the costs of handling cash, compared to the national average of 1.1%, Mastercard said on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban. Direct costs associated with cash, such as ATM and bank branch fees, cost consumers R9.1bn in 2015. The remaining R14bn (61%) comprised indirect costs, such as travel time and travel expenses associated with accessing ATMs and branches, interest foregone and theft. While the number of banked adults increased from 63% of the adult population in 2011 to 77% in 2015, cash transactions accounted for more than half the total value of all consumer transactions in 2015, or about R1.3-trillion. Those earning below R3,000 a month had the highest incidence of ATM withdrawals, behind social grant recipients. With ATMs and bran...

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