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In Estonia, cash is used in almost half of all point of sale transactions

April 3, 2018 Share Source

Almost half of all point of sale transactions in Estonia were done with cash in 2016, according to the European Central Banks' Occasional Paper Series: The use of cash by households in the EU Area.  

This is a small percentage in comparison to the rest of the EU area where on average, 75% of POS transactions took place with cash. Yet, in Estonia, at almost half of all POS transactions, cash is still king.  

The survey results not only “challenge the perception that cash is rapidly being replaced by cashless means of payment,” but also confirm that cash is still the predominant payment instrument across the Eurozone at a POS level. 

Key findings related to Estonia include

  • In 2016 the Netherlands was the only euro area country where consumers used payment cards more often than cash. They carried out 55% of all transactions using a payment card, while in Estonia consumers carried out an equal number of transactions by cash and card, on average. (p. 22)
  • The Netherlands, Estonia and Finland had the lowest shares of cash transactions, ranging between 45% and 54% of all payments at POS. (p. 19)
  • Cash payments accounted for 31% of the total value of POS transactions in Estonia last year.
  • The average card transaction value was the highest in Luxembourg, Malta and Germany, [... and] lowest in Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia where it ranged from €16.05 to €14.33, indicating that consumers in these countries use cards for relatively low-value payments. (p.21)

The only other recent paper estimating the value and number of payment behaviour around Europe dates from 2008, making this ECB research paper essential reading material for policy makers, key stakeholders and journalists navigating the discussion on cash. 

Source: ECB, Deutsche Bundesbank and De Nederlandsche Bank (ECB, Nov 2017, p.20)

Excerpt from ECB Occasional Paper Series: The use of cash by households in the EU area

The use of cash and cards differs according to country, place of purchase, transaction value and consumers’ demographic characteristics. In terms of number of transactions, cash was most used in the southern euro area countries, as well as in Germany, Austria and Slovenia, where 80% or more of POS transactions were conducted with cash. Cash was least used in the Netherlands, Estonia and Finland, where its share in the number of transactions ranged between 45% and 54%. In terms of value, the share of cash was highest in Greece, Cyprus and Malta (above 70%), while it was lowest in the Benelux countries, Estonia, France and Finland (at, or below, 33%). When looking at the demographic characteristics of euro area consumers, it can be concluded that men tend to use cash more often than women. Furthermore, consumers aged 40 and over use more cash than younger age groups, whereas cash usage appears to be relatively homogeneous across different levels of education.

Overall, the results put the use of cash relative to non-cash payment methods by consumers at POS into perspective, and indicate that the use of cash at POS is still widespread in most euro area countries. This seems to challenge the perception that cash is rapidly being replaced by cashless means of payment. Continue reading...

Read 'ECB Occasional Paper Series' here


Esselink, Henk, Lola Hernández. "Occasional papers series: The use of cash by households in the euro area". No 201. European Central Bank. Electronically published November 2017. Accessed November 25, 2017. 

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Last Updated: Feb. 12, 2020

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