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25 November 2021 General

Consumers are increasingly paying electronically for in-store purchases. In 3% of stores they have no alternative because the retailer pursues a card-only policy. 27% of retailers use promotional materials to encourage consumers to pay electronically. Sometimes it can be unclear whether the retailer takes cash. If  retailers do not accept cash, they should inform their customers clearly in advance, so that these can go to another store if they want.

Survey into communication about point-of-sale payment options

In the second quarter of 2021, research agency Locatus conducted a field study commissioned by De Nederlandsche Bank. The study involved visits to 5,300 stores, bars, restaurants and hotels, libraries and market stalls. Payment policies displayed on stickers, signs and posters near the shop front, door or cash register were recorded. Most stores (68%) did not display their payments policies. At these stores, consumers may count on being able to pay for their purchases in cash. 27% of retailers displayed a wide range of promotional materials to promote card payments. For example, 15% of retailers indicated a clear preference, for example through stickers with the message “Pinnen ja graag” (Card payments, yes please). At these stores, consumers may also count on being able to pay for their purchases in cash. A further 12% of the retailers displayed unclearer messages, such as "Betaal met pin" (Pay by card) or "PIN" (Card payments). In these cases it is not always clear for customers whether or not they can pay in cash.

Payment policy categories displayed on stickers at retailers (n=5,283)

Small proportion of retailers communicate they only accept card payments

A small proportion of retailers (3%) informed their customers that they accept card payments only (“card only policy”).  Such card-only stickers were mainly found in libraries and pharmacies and at petrol stations (see Figure 2). Retailers that belong to a particular chain are also more likely to only accept card payments (7%) than independent retailers (2%). There are also differences between the various provinces in the Netherlands. The most card-only stickers were found in Overijssel and Utrecht, with an average of 9% and 6% of the visited retail locations, and the fewest were found in Friesland (1% on average). The location of the stickers was also considered. If a retailer only accepts card payments, then this must be made clear before the customer enters the premises. This was the case for 70% of the card-only stores. The remaining 30% informed customers only after these had entered the store, or at the cash register.

Unambiguous communication about accepted payment method is needed

The continued widespread acceptance of cash by retailers is important for the proper functioning of the payment system. If retailers do not take cash, it is important that they communicate this clearly to their customers at the entrance to the store.

Share of stores displaying card-only stickers by sector