Cash declines but under-the-mattress savings resist

Would the Covid have carried the blow to cash? According to a recent study by the European Central Bank (ECB)cash payment, still used for 59% of transactions, has lost twenty points since 2016. At the time, on the continent, it was preferred to the bank card in 79% of cases.

With the pandemic and the fear of contracting the virus, the use of bank cards, most often contactless, has become even more entrenched in habits. Card payment at the point of sale has increased from 25% in 2019 to 34% in 2022 and Europeans are increasingly refraining from inserting it into the machine. Today, this payment method, also called NFC (Near Field Communication), represents 62% of card transactions, compared to 41% in 2010.

The increase in its ceiling to 50 euros in 2020 will undoubtedly have been a boost for its democratization.

Read alsoBanks: has the Covid accelerated the disappearance of cash dispensers?

Purchases under 5 euros

From now on, beyond 50 euros, the chances of seeing Europeans plunge their hand into their purse to bring out a few banknotes are dwindling. According to the study, the majority of cash transactions are used for purchases of less than five euros and for the first time, the total value of card payments exceeds that of cash payments.

But the bank card is not the only one to steal the show from cash. Apple PayPaylib or even Google Pay… more and more individuals are choosing to digitize their wallet, some even going so far as to leave their homes, their telephone as the only means of payment.

However, payment by mobile remains marginal in Europe, unlike other regions where it has definitely become commonplace, such as Asia or the United States. Although it has tripled since 2019, it still represents only 3% of transactions today.

Still, in Europe, as in France, the number of ATMs has been inexorably declining since 2016 (-12%). However, according to the study, Europeans still cherish this means of payment which they find more anonymous and which allows them to keep control of their expenses.

Cash circulation record

This is also why cash is not quite on its way to becoming obsolete. Under the mattress or in the cookie box, the French keep more and more money outside the wallet. Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the amount of these free banknotes in households has increased by 63 billion euros according to the Banque de France.

And the war in Ukraine may well have taken over, since the trend is still on the rise. At the end of the first half of 2022, households held 275 billion euros in coins and banknotes, compared to nearly 10 billion euros more than at the end of December 2021, a record according to data from the institution.

Companies, too, do not drop tickets. In France, 95% of them accept cash and 99% plan to continue to do so in the years to come, according to a recent study by the ECB.

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Cash declines but under-the-mattress savings resist

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