Cash Acceptance Strong in Canada

May 7, 2024


The Bank of Canada says ‘cash and digital payments continue to coexist at the point of sale’ with the percentage of businesses welcoming it still high, alongside improvements in card acceptance.

The March discussion paper shows 96 percent of businesses take cash, while 89 percent are able to process card transactions. The vast majority—92 percent—also have no plans to go cashless. It concludes that both cash and digital payments have important roles to play in the nation’s payments landscape, and ‘Canada is far from being a cashless society.’

The study was conducted among small to medium businesses, independently owned and operated, that sell some or all of their goods and services in physical stores. It notes these merchants were targeted as they ‘typically have more control over payment acceptance decisions [than larger enterprises], so they tend to have more variation of acceptance.’ Large businesses are assumed to accept most, if not all, common methods of payment, routinely including cash, cards and digital payments.

Among [businesses] surveyed, 96 percent reported they accept cash. This makes cash the most accepted of all payment methods. This trend has remained stable since 2015, despite increasing acceptance of debit and credit cards over the same period.
"COVID-19 Hasn’t Killed Merchant Acceptance of Cash: Results from the 2023 Merchant Acceptance Survey, Bank of Canada

The study aims to inform the central bank’s ‘understanding of cash and other payment methods’, and finds that cash continues to be valued by consumers and businesses alike even as Canada undergoes a ‘digital transformation of the economy.’

Last Updated: May 7, 2024