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A customer pushes his troll at a Lidl supermarket in Berlin December 22, 2008. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Fabrizio Bensch
He’s almost certainly carrying cash.

Why Germans pay cash for almost everything

Member exclusive by Matt Phillips

As banks, technology giants and would-be disruptors such as Square scrummage over the payment system of the future, German consumers seem perfectly happy with the payment system of the past. Germany remains one of the most cash-intensive advanced economies on earth.

On average, wallets in Germany hold nearly twice as much cash—about $123 worth—as those in Australia, the US, France and Holland, according to a recent Federal Reserve report on how consumers paid for things in seven countries. Roughly 80% of all transactions in Germany are conducted in cash. (In the US, it’s less than 50%.) And cash is the dominant form of payment there even for large transactions.