According to a study carried out by European Central Bank (ECB), Euro Area consumers made 157 billion point of sales (POS) payments, amounting to 2.84 € trillion in value. The survey results showed that in 19 Euro Area countries in 2016 cash was the dominant payment instrument at POS. In terms of number, 79% of all transactions were carried out using cash, amounting to 54% of the total value of all payments. Cards were the second most frequently used payment instrument at POS; 19% of all transactions were settled using a payment card. In terms of value, this amounts to 39% of the total value paid at POS.
The use of cash and cards differs according to country, place of purchase, transaction value and consumers’ demographic characteristics. In terms of number of transactions, cash was most used in the southern euro area countries, as well as in Germany, Austria and Slovenia, where 80% or more of POS transactions were conducted with cash. Cash was least used in the Netherlands, Estonia and Finland, where its share in the number of transactions ranged between 45% and 54%.
When looking at the demographic characteristics of euro area consumers, it can be concluded that men tend to use cash more often than women. Furthermore, consumers aged 40 and over use more cash than younger age groups, whereas cash usage appears to be relatively homogeneous across different levels of education.
On average 43% of consumers in the Euro Area prefer to pay by card
In terms of value, the share of cash was highest in Greece, Cyprus and Malta (above 70%), while it was lowest in the Benelux countries, Estonia, France and Finland (at, or below, 33%).
Average value of cash transactions at POS by country stood at €12.38
Although the share of contactless payments in many countries is still low, the survey results suggest that the speed with which such payments have been embraced in some countries may mean that once payment cards and POS terminals are enabled with contactless technology on a wider scale, the share of contactless payments could increase significantly.
Up to 35% of payments were for amounts lower than €5.
~65% transactions were for amounts lower than €10.
Source: ECB Occasional Paper Series