Cash used less and less in euro area countries
Cash is still the most widely accepted means of payment for point-of-sale (POS) payments, with 59% of transactions being settled in cash, compared to 34% using cards (both debit and credit cards). Cash usage has fallen sharply in recent years (see Figure 1). In 2016, an average of 79% of POS payments were still made with cash. The total value of cash POS payments has likewise fallen, from 54% in 2016 to 41% in 2022. The EBC notes that the COVID-19 pandemic may have amplified the decline, as restrictions or warnings were in place in many euro area countries to prevent the spread of the virus.
The decline in cash use mainly reflects the increasing popularity of card payments – their use has almost doubled on average across all euro countries since 2016 (see Figure 1). Of all these card payments, 62% are now made contactless, up 21 percentage points from 2019. People are also using smartphones more and more often for POS payments. Many people say they prefer using a card because they like not having to carry a lot of cash. They also find card payments easier and faster.
Figure 1 - Shares of different means of payment in the euro area