Global Finance Report Finds ‘Cash is Alive and Well’
A report examining financial attitudes, preferences and habits in 17 key global markets suggests the demise of cash has been overstated. It concludes that—despite changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic—payment cultures around the world remain diverse, and cash coexists with contactless options.
YouGov’s Global Banking & Finance Report 2021 was prepared through a combination of its own profile data and deep-dive custom research in Australia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
The ‘death of cash’ has been frequently pronounced, but the data shows that in these 17 markets it has been overstated.
The report opens by noting an ongoing, global trend of reduced spending on non-essential items, with 72 percent of Indonesians cutting back in the past six months, 56 percent of Italians and 55 percent of Mexicans. Europe saw generally lower levels of spending limitations, but even in the countries reporting the fewest cutbacks, the numbers were still significant: 20 percent in Denmark, 28 percent in Germany and 35 percent in Sweden.
Concerning how people are choosing to pay, despite an expected increase in contactless options as more people shop online, the report remarks on the continued relevance of cash, which is especially pronounced in markets such as Mexico, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, India, Indonesia and Spain. All of these reported higher rates of people reporting they prefer to pay with cash than those who did not.
Exploring Germany as an example of a particularly cash-reliant country, YouGov’s data shows Germans are also averse to contactless payments, especially in comparison with other large European economies. The report notes Germany is tied with the United States for the lowest level of contactless adoption in all 17 markets. In the former, YouGov data suggests this correlates with relatively high levels of suspicion—and sometimes open antipathy—towards financial services in general.
British consumers exhibit the highest aversion to taking risks with their money, while their German counterparts are the most likely to take risks—alongside Singapore consumers—providing an interesting counterpoint to their more negative attitudes towards non-cash payments.
Noting that the European nations studied have largely accepted contactless options into their payment mix (with the exception of Germany—the largest continental economy) the report concludes that around the world, payment cultures continue to vary depending on local circumstances and preferences, and cash remains an important part of the mix.
Our data… speaks to the diversity of payment cultures around the world, and it also suggests that—for the near future, at least—cash is alive and well in several significant markets.