95% of physical payment locations accept cash throughout the euro area
This fact comes from the 2022 European Central Bank (ECB) publication Study on the Payment Attitudes of Consumers in the Euro Area (SPACE).
Seeking a deeper understanding of the changing payment behaviour of consumers in the euro area, the ECB conducted a survey in 2019 to capture the attitudes and activity of citizens. It subsequently opted to repeat the survey every two years, with the goal of supporting payment choice across the EU.
Launched in 2021 and completed in 2022, the referenced study shows cash remains the most-used payment choice at point of sale (POS), even as cashless payments continue to gain popularity. Its key findings are as follows.
- Cash was the most frequently used payment method at the point of sale in the euro area and was used in 59% of transactions. Card payments were used in 34% of POS transactions. Other payment methods were used for 7% of POS transactions.
- The share of payments using mobile apps increased from less than 1% in 2019 to 3% in 2022.
- In terms of value of payments, cards (46%) accounted for a higher share of transactions than cash payments (42%).
- Cash was most frequently used for small value payments at the POS, in line with previous comparable surveys. For payments over €50, cards were the most frequently used method.
- Cash was the dominant means of payment in person-to-person (P2P) transactions in the euro area.
- Cashless means of payments, particularly mobile phone apps, increased in P2P payments. Between 2019 and 2022, the share of mobile payments more than tripled in terms of number from 3% to 10%, and rose from 4% to 11% in terms of value.
- 55% of euro area consumers expressed a preference for cards and other cashless payments when paying in a shop, while 22% preferred cash and 23% had no clear preference.
- The majority of euro area consumers considered having cash as a payment option to be important or very important.
- The perceived key advantages of cash were its anonymity and protection of privacy and the perception that it makes one more aware of one’s own expenses.
- Compared to before the outbreak of the pandemic, the majority of consumers (54%) said there had been no change in how often they use cash at physical points of sale; 31% of consumers indicated that they were using cash less often and 14% more often.
- Most euro area consumers were satisfied with their access to cash. The vast majority of consumers (90%) found it fairly easy or very easy to get to an ATM or a bank (up from 89% in 2019). The remaining 10% said it was fairly or very difficult.
- 37% of consumers kept cash reserves at home, outside the wallet or a bank account, up from 34% in 2019.
- Cash was accepted in 95% of physical payment locations throughout the euro area.