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These are the countries clinging to cold, hard cash

Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
Old school.
  • Aamna Mohdin
By Aamna Mohdin


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

The days of cash seem numbered for a sizable share of people, but a larger group isn’t yet ready to give up all those crumpled notes and fiddly coins.

More than a third of consumers in Europe and America would go completely cashless if they had the choice, according to a survey by Dutch bank ING, which polled 15,000 people across 15 countries. People in Turkey, Italy, and Poland are the most keen on going cashless, with more than 40% saying they’d like to live that way. By contrast, British, Dutch, and Australian consumers are the most reluctant, showing less enthusiasm (or apathy) for a world without cash:

Many people are already getting by without notes and coins—34% of Americans and 21% of Europeans say they rarely or never carry cash. Three-quarters of survey respondents say they will use less cash in the coming year. Unsurprisingly, younger respondents are more eager to do away with cash than their older counterparts.

Mind you, the majority of people still use cash from day to day—around 60% of Americans and 80% of Europeans told ING that they had used cash in the past three days, mostly for smaller payments like food, taxis, and public transport. What’s more, around three-quarters of Americans and Europeans say they will never be able go completely cashless, even if, in places like Italy, a large share of people say they would like to.

Although they weren’t surveyed, Swedes and Danes are well on their way to ditching cash entirely, supported by both whizzy startups and official initiatives. Speaking of which, next year the European Central Bank will stop issuing €500 notes in a bid to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Only 6% of Europeans told ING that the withdrawal of high-denomination notes would affect their finances, despite the stiff resistance to the ECB’s move in places like Austria and Germany, on privacy grounds. Fittingly, the Austrians and Germans are near the top of list of people who say they will never give up cash.

Curiously, Americans are among the most keen to get rid of cash and say that large bills are important to them. Nearly 20% of US consumers say that scrapping the $100 bill would affect their finances. It could be that they are eager to use cards, apps, and other means of transfer for routine transactions, but when they need to pay for something with cash, they really need it.

Read more: Why Germans pay cash for almost everything

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