For several years now, debit cards have been slowly gaining ground on credit cards as the payment method of choice for Australians aged over 18.

Now new research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has confirmed this retail trend, revealing that the number of debit cards in Australia is likely to overtake credit cards in the coming months.

According to the ABS, there are now around 109 million debit card transactions occurring every month across Australia.

That is an increase of nearly 300 per cent over data collected by the ABS in February 2009, and shows just how quickly debit cards are growing in popularity.

In comparison, the number of credit card transactions occurring each month has held steady over the last few years at around 117 million.

Roy Morgan Research industry communications director Norman Morris says that the landscape of Australian payments has changed significantly since the introduction of non-cash payments.

In a statement released April 11, he explained that many Australians are shying away from spending in the wake of global uncertainty and a difficult economic climate.

“Consumers are focusing more on savings than on spending and it is becoming increasingly clear that with the higher use of debit cards over credit cards, consumers are having more control of their own funds,” said Mr Morris.

Australian retailers will therefore want to take note of this, and make sure that they have a strong retail strategy in place in order to make the most of limited sales opportunities.

The ABS has suggested that the increase in debit card transactions is being driven mainly by younger consumers – those in the 18-34 age range.

The amount of Australians in this demographic with a debit card has increased 400 per cent since February 2009, from 10.3 million transactions per month to 54.6 million transactions per month.

Overall, the ABS estimates that there are around 225 million active debit and credit cards currently being utilised by Australian consumers.