News • 11.05.2021

Towards a cashless society due to the corona crisis?

The impact of the corona pandemic on payment attitudes – ECB survey

hand holding a credit card over a payment device
Source: Panthermedia/Milkos

In order to measure the impact of the pandemic on cash trends, an ECB survey was rolled out in all euro area in July 2020. Therefore the IMPACT survey gives a view of possible changes in the payment attitude of consumers and their payment behavior in Europe. In total 17,779 persons were interviewed, online or via telephone. 

Results for the euro area as a whole 

Looking at the three POS locations where most transactions were carried out, cash payment was mostly used in restaurants, bars and cafés (63%) and in small shops for day-to-day items (57%). At supermarkets, cash was only used to settle 38% of the transactions.

Due to the public concerns about risks of being contaminated with the coronavirus via cash, a little over one third of the respondents stated that they had experienced a situation in which cash was not accepted. Only 8% of the respondents had not paid with cash since the start of the pandemic.

Nearly half (45%) of the respondents paying less with cash since the start of the pandemic stated that paying electronically had been made more convenient, as can be seen in the chart below.

chart displaying the main reasons for changing payment behavior during the...
Source: ECB

Results at the country level 

Great variation exists at the country level: in Ireland, Belgium and Spain, more than half of the respondents said that they were paying less with cash since the pandemic, whereas in Estonia, Latvia and Malta less than 25% said the same.

No breakthrough of payments with mobile devices

The number of payments with a mobile device (e.g. a phone or a smart watch) did not increase drastically, because over half (53%) of the respondents said that they did not have such a payment instrument.

87% of the respondents who stated that they had paid less in cash said that they would continue to do so when the coronavirus crisis is over, of which 46% said that they were certain that they would continue to do so. 

Author: Elisa Wendorf; Source: ECB

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