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Payment behaviour during the pandemic

News item supervision

Published: 31 March 2021

Contactloos betalen

DNB research shows that the payment behaviour of Dutch consumers changed significantly during the pandemic; there was a sharp increase in debit card use, which came at the expense of cash payments. COVID-19 and the measures taken by the government, banks and retailers have made contactless payment a more attractive option.

Fewer cash payments at cash registers

The share of cash payments as part of the total number of payments made at cash registers fell sharply during the pandemic. This was revealed by research on the basis of payment diary data collected daily by DNB and the Dutch Payments Association (Betaalvereniging Nederland – BVN). In April 2020, just after the start of the pandemic, the share of cash payments was only 13%, down from 31% at the beginning of 2020. The change in payment behaviour was most noticeable among older people and in branches where cash payments were still common, such as in the recreation, cultural and street vending sectors. Payment behaviour has yet to return to ‘normal’, as the current share of cash payments is still only 21%.

Marked increase in preference for contactless payment

The pandemic saw a marked increase in the percentage of people who say they prefer contactless payments, from 46% at the start of the first lockdown to 62% in January 2021. Contactless payment by debit card is especially seeing a surge in usage, with the greatest popularity gains being made among people over the age of 65. The share of consumers with a preference for traditional debit card payments (by manually entering a PIN code) decreased significantly, while the share of consumers who prefer to pay cash decreased only slightly.

Lasting effects expected

The change in payment behaviour as a result of the pandemic is expected to have lasting long-term effects, as a stronger preference for contactless payment has taken root.

Want to learn more?

Read the DNB working paper on Pandemic Payment Patterns by Nicole Jonker, Carin van der Cruijsen, Michiel Bijlsma and Wilko Bolt.

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