ECB: Cash is slowly becoming less important


According to the European Central Bank (ECB), cash is becoming less important for consumers. Although notes and coins are still the most popular means of payment for small amounts at checkouts in shops, the use of cards is increasing.

This is based on data for 2019 that the central bank published today in Frankfurt. Last year, people in the euro area processed 73 percent of their payments to sales outlets and between private individuals in cash. Three years earlier it was 79 percent. The share of card usage for smaller amounts at the business till rose from 19 percent to 24 percent of transactions over the three years.

Pandemic accelerated development

In a supplementary survey in July 2020, according to the ECB, four out of ten respondents said they had used cash less since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Although most of them expected that they will continue to do so after the pandemic, the long-term effects on payment behavior are still uncertain, according to the ECB.

“It is extremely important for us that consumers are free to choose their payment method. Our goal is therefore to ensure the acceptance of cash and access to cash in the euro area and at the same time to promote innovations in electronic payment transactions, ”said ECB Executive Board member Fabio Panetta. The central bank is currently working on a digital version of the euro.

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