Cash payments decline in favor of bankcards

According to a European Central Bank report published on December 20, the use of cash continues to decline in the eurozone. The total value of cash payments in shops is now lower than that of bankcard payments.

Bankcard payments up sharply

Between 2019, the year of publication of the European Central Bank's (ECB) previous survey of household payment habits in the eurozone, and 2022, in-store cash payments have declined considerably.

Whereas they accounted for 79% of retail transactions in 2016 and 72% in 2019, they have dropped to 59%, confirming the accelerating decline of cash, one of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the same time, credit card payments have increased, rising from 19% of in-store transactions in 2016 to 25% in 2019, and 34% in 2022. Mobile payment has also progressed, but is still little used in shops: transactions via payment apps have increased threefold, from 1% to 3% of total transactions.

Another consequence of the health crisis: online payments have surged. They now account for 17% of transactions, compared with just 6% in 2019. They were mainly used to buy food and essential goods from supermarkets and restaurants.

The rise of contactless payment

In terms of value, card payments (46%) surpassed cash payments (42%) for the first time. In 2019, cash payments accounted for 47% of transactions, compared with 43% for card payments. In 2016, 54% of payments were made in cash, compared with 39% by bankcard.

In retail outlets, cash is mainly used for low-value purchases, most of which are under 5 euros. Over 50 euros, card payments predominate.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in contactless bankcard payments. By 2022, 62% of card payments were contactless, compared with 41% in 2019.

Furthermore, while cash remains the most widely used means of payment between individuals in the eurozone, it is also on the decline. The number of cash payments has fallen from 86% in 2019 to 73% in 2022, and their share by value, which was 65% in 2019, is only 59% in 2022.

Among the non-cash means of payment used between private individuals, mobile payment is playing an increasingly important role. It has more than tripled between 2019 and 2022, rising from 3% to 10% in number of transactions, and from 4% to 11% in value.

Despite the accelerating decline of cash, " the ECB is determined to ensure that consumers remain free to choose how to pay, now and in the future [...] Our commitment to cash and our ongoing work on thedigital euro are designed to ensure that paying in cash always remains an option ," said ECB Executive Board member Fabio Panetta in a statement.