While the global level of cash payments still remain very high at the level of 85% of all consumer transactions, the world is steadily pacing towards cashless society concept. Banks providing check and card payment processing have long been in the forefront of cashless transactions with online and mobile payment systems successfully squeezed into the market and bitcoin-like cryptocurrencies being at the back of the pack. We decided to make a quick-fact review of the most cashless countries and payment methods highly preferred by their citizens.
According to the data provided by MasterCard Advisors analytics, Singapore heads the chart of the most cashless countries with the estimated percentage of consumer payment transactions dune with the use of non-cash methods accounting for 61%. On the other hand the average growth of cash-based transactions amounts to 5.5.% a year with banknotes or coins circulating across the nation per capita making up 6,943 Singapore dollars as of 2015.
Consumers opening bank accounts in Singapore usually get the checkbook, so checks still play a significant role in the national payment industry. Visa and MasterCard are also widespread in shopping malls, hotels and other points of sale as well as ATMs. Yet, the largest cashless payment operator in the country is NETS, or Network for Electronic Transfers (Singapore) Pte Ltd, founded as long ago as in 1985 by a consortium of Singaporean banks to promote digital and electronic payments into the masses.
Second in the list, Netherlands is shy of Singapore by the total non-cash consumer payments, which is 60% here. Share of the population owning a debit card amounts to 98%, nevertheless, cash accounts for about 40% of all transactions in the country so far. In Amsterdam no parking sites accept cash or coins with a significant number of retailers and restaurants refusing the cash in favor of credit or debit card transactions.
In the joint study into the debit card and cash usage in the Netherlands, the Dutch Payments Association and De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) unveiled that in 2015 consumers made 50% of all payments on their debit cards against 49.5% made by cash and 0.5% by credit cards. According to the data from the joint report of the Dutch ecommerce association Thuiswinkel.org and iDEAL, 56% of online payments in 2015 were made through iDEAL payment system, while Statista reporting 60% for the same payment method, followed by 14% made via SEPA direct debit (though Thuiswinkel.org says this figure was only 6%). Thuiswinkel.org reports that 12% of online payments in 2015 were made on credit cards.
Just 1% behind the Netherlands, France shows that the estimated share of payments done by non-cash methods accounted for 59%, but like in the Netherlands cash stands for approximately 40% of all transactions. In a move to further expand the cashless penetration across its community France introduced the ban on cash transactions exceeding €1,000, down from the previous limit of €3,000.
Figures from various sources indicate that payment cards are a very popular payment method within France, with Cartes Bankaires leading the industry (52.5% of the credit card market). Groupement des Cartes Bancaires CB is a French national interbank system servicing more than 46,000 ATMs and over 1 million EFTPOS acceptance points. Next to Cartes Bankaires is Mastercard with 41.8% share, and Visa occupies the minor position with 5.7%. As for online payments credit cards (57%) are followed by PayPal with 16% share among the preferred online payment methods.
Sweden comes abreast with France, indicating the level of payments made by non-cash methods to be 59%, and the value of cash transactions is declining every year with the average annual decrease accounting for -6.9%. Thus, at the end of 2015 Sweden spent 7,362 Swedish kronas in cash per capita. Swedish authorities put forth a proposal for stores to discontinue accepting cash for payments. Report from Swedish central bank the Riksbank reveals that in 2015 cash transactions made up in the vicinity of 2% with the figure projected to drop to 0.5% by 2020.
Consumer payment preference lie in the plane of card payments with an average of 207 transactions made per card per year. According to the same report from the Riksbank, card payments stood out for 68% followed by credit transfers (25%) and direct debits (7%). The most popular electronic payment systems in Sweden include Swish and Klarna. “Sweden Pays 2016” survey shows that 66% of respondents prefer Swish, 61% – Klarna, and the third major preference is PayPal – 32% of the polled.
MasterCard Advisors analytics further unveils that in Canada the share of non-cash-based payments amounted to 57% of total transactions, while the average growth of cash usage in the country accounting for 3.2% a year and 2,271 Canadian dollars spent per capita in 2015. According to Bank of Canada’s 2013 Methods-of-Payment Survey Results cash still accounts for 44% of the total volume of payments and 23% of the value share.
TSYS 2016 Canadian Consumer Payment Choice Study with the participation of 1,200 consumers indicated that 47% of the polled give their preference to credit cards when making payments and 33% – to debit cards. On the other hand Canada.CreditCards.com research reports that for 2016 spending on credit cards amounted to 65% of all transactions, and that on debit card – 35%. Cross-border Ecommerce Report – Canada by the Payers further unveils that MasterCard is the preferred card payment processor in Canada having a 53.6% share. Last year the most widely used payment system in Canada was PayPal (70%), followed by Starbucks (42%), Passbook (2%), Apple Pay (26%) and Google Wallet (25%).
With 56% share of non-cash payments in total transactions Belgium is pushing forward the common for the whole Europe policy of going ‘cashless’ and has a law that establishes a cash payment limit cap in the amount of €3,000. Violation of that law may lead to fines as large as up to €225,000.
According to landmark global credit card payments remain the most preferred payment method in Belgium with 35% of consumer preference, followed by Bancontact/Mistercash – 30% and PayPal – 12%. In the total volume of credit card payments 30% belongs to Visa, 20% – MasterCard and 2% – American Express.
In the United Kingdom share of cashless payments in total volume of transactions accounts for 52% with the average cash usage growth making up 3.2% a year, which in 2015 meant that on average British spent £1,067 in cash per capita. Yet, UK consumers continue using cash for making payments with the cash share standing for 45.1% in 2015. Meantime, experts forecast the cash transactions to decline by 2025 to the level of 27% in total payments volume.
The payment option that is used the most heavily by British customers is debit card accounting for 24% of total payments made in 2014, according to the data from The Payments Council, while credit card spending is gradually declining. According to the UK Cards Association Debit Card for October 2016, 69% of debit cards in the UK are currently contactless. In terms of brand penetration, Barclaycard is the leading credit card issuer in the UK, issuing one in five credit cards in the country. The data from Payvision shows that the largest payment system preferred by the UK online shoppers is PayPal (21.0%) coming third after credit (40.0%) and debit (35.0%) cards.
To date debates are still heating up over the benefits and drawbacks of the cashless economies, as the research conducted by the UK government on assessing the risks related to money laundering and terrorist financing reveals that Banks and Accountancy service providers (like Mossack Fonseca) lead the list of the sources with the highest risks, showing the risk grades as 158 and 90, respectively, and, on the other part cash comes just on the third place, graded as 88. Besides, government-regulated money market itself is a disadvantage, as consumers are forced to report all their profits with a large number of people likely to remain out of cash if on some grounds public authorities decide to freeze their funds. Qui vivra verra or just wait and see.