ECB: People less inclined to pay cash since start of virus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic seems to have encouraged people to switch from cash to electronic payments, the European Central Bank (ECB) said in a Wednesday report.

Coronavirus increased electronic payments

In a survey conducted in July, covering the 19-country eurozone, 40 per cent of respondents said they had started using cash less often since the start of the pandemic, the ECB said.

Almost 90 per cent of them said they would "certainly" or "probably" stick with electronic payments after the end of the coronavirus crisis.

When asked their reason for doing so, 40 per cent of respondents said electronic payments had become more convenient, and 38 per cent were worried about infection risks from banknotes.

Wednesday's report included other ECB research showing that cash payments in the eurozone had fallen from 79 per cent of the total in 2016 to 73 per cent last year.

Cash payments around Europe

"Cashless means of payment are increasing their share across euro area countries, albeit at varying speeds," ECB board member Fabio Panetta commented.

"The trend towards cashless payments seems to have accelerated during the pandemic, although the consolidation of this provisional finding is still uncertain," he added.

In 2019, the eurozone countries most attached to cash payments were Malta (88 per cent), Spain and Cyprus (83 per cent each) and Italy (82 per cent).

The lowest percentages of cash payments were recorded in Finland (35 per cent) and the Netherlands (34 per cent). In Germany the share was 77 per cent, in France 59 per cent.