The value of online spending on debit and credit cards has grown at an annual average rate of more than 15 per cent since 2005, the Reserve Bank (RBA) said in its quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy.

“The ongoing growth in online shopping has led to an increased focus on the size and growth of the online market in Australia,” the RBA said.

“There are, however, no official data on the total value of online purchases, although a range of industry estimates suggest that these purchases are equivalent to around 3 per cent of household consumption.

“Industry reports and the Bank’s liaison also suggest that online purchases have grown strongly over recent years.”
Payments made on Australian cards overseas have grown at an average of 15.5 per cent, faster than the growth in electronic domestic purchases of 10 per cent.

But the RBA said the growth in international purchases reflects the increased amount of Australians travelling overseas.

“The data on payments made on Australian cards at overseas merchants include payments made when Australians travel overseas, as well as payments made by Australians for online purchases from overseas merchants,” the RBA said.

In addition, the appreciation of the exchange rate has made foreign goods and services cheaper, triggering debate about imposing GST on internationally bought items worth less than $1000. 

The RBA said that the number of inbound postal items delivered through the Australia Post network also suggests there’s been a growth in online purchases from overseas. The total number of items delivered, since 2005 has increased at an average annual rate of around 10 per cent.

On a monthly basis, the RBA collects data from financial institutions on the value of spending on debit and credit cards, with the data split into spending on these cards at domestic merchants and overseas merchants. For spending at domestic merchants, the data is further split into buying online or at a physical store.