France Returns to Cash

calendar iconAug 20, 2021

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Cash payments are climbing fast in France as the nation’s outlook brightens, and experts forecast further gains with contactless options potentially losing ground.

According to data from cash management company Brinks, payments made with physical money soared 37 percent in the first week of June, compared to the first three weeks of May. This follows an overall upward trend in cash usage as the country begins its COVID-19 recovery.

As the pandemic took hold, cash payments fell sharply—as was the picture in many countries—with many favouring online shopping and shifting to digital payments, despite the additional bank fees these typically incur.

With the pandemic showing signs of decline, experts suggest people have built up large cash reserves in recent months—a common reaction to times of uncertainty—and are now ready to go out and spend them as health restrictions are relaxed. In this year’s YouGov Global Banking & Finance Report, 49 percent of French respondents reported actively reducing non-essential expenses in the final months of 2020, and the economy may now be showing signs of a reverse in that policy.

An article by bank fee comparison site Meilleurebanque observes ‘the French still seem attached to cash, and do not plan to give it up anytime soon.’ It predicts cash usage will continue to rise—especially as current data was collected before restaurants had fully reopened and curfew was removed—and foresees a related decline in contactless payments. It remains to be seen if this will prove correct, given other regions have seen cash and cashless payments rise together, with overall payments increasing, and no losses for non-cash options.

Last Updated: Aug 20, 2021