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Aussies rushing to withdraw cash from ASX banks

ATM with Australian $100 bills
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Australians were rushing to withdraw cash from ASX banks according to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

The Australian Financial Review reported that people were withdrawing large amounts of cash in the second half of March 2020, sometimes millions of dollars at a time.

The coronavirus was causing a lot of economic panic before central banks and governments stepped in to provide support to the economy.

Banks were seeing such a large demand for cash that the RBA and those banks had to use more security vans to deliver cash to branches.

I’m sure this was affecting all the major ASX banks like Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) and National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB).

Are people still withdrawing cash?

Thankfully the RBA said that the elevated demand has since abated.

I can understand why some depositors wanted to withdraw their cash. In the northern hemisphere there was a severe cash run on the banks as people feared the banks wouldn’t be able to give them their money. Of course, this worsened the problem considerably.

Seeing queues of people withdrawing cash isn’t going to make the rest of population feel confident.

With cash earning next to nothing in the bank with ultra-low interest rates, people wouldn’t be losing much interest by taking their cash out. However, it’s easier to lose physical cash.  And I wouldn’t feel safe having $1 million of cash in my house.

Foolish takeaway

Coming into this, the big four ASX banks were some of the most capitalised in the world. They can ride this out better than most banks. The ASX banks may prove to be decent medium-term investments at today’s low prices. But I think we may not be through the woods yet. I believe there are better opportunities out there.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of National Australia Bank Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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