Cash remains the most widespread payment method in certain European countries. Is the shift towards cashless transactions being reversed?

Cash remains the most prevalent payment method in certain European countries, challenging the global trend towards cashless transactions. Is the move towards a cashless society being reconsidered?
According to a study by the consulting company BearingPoint, cash continues to be the primary form of payment in several European countries despite the global push towards cashless transactions. Notably, Austria and Germany actively favor the use of cash. Why do people still prefer banknotes and coins in their wallets?
Cash is King?
The use of cash, as per BearingPoint's data, is significantly higher in Austria (79%) and Germany (71%) compared to other European nations. Respondents from Switzerland (63%), Ireland (61%), the Netherlands (57%), and France (55%) also demonstrate relatively high levels of cash usage, although they lag behind German-speaking countries. Finland exhibits a significantly lower frequency of cash usage for purchases, standing at 43%.
The use of cash varies among different age groups. Cash is most popular among individuals aged 55 and above in Austria, with an 86% usage rate, whereas in Finland, this age group shows the lowest cash usage at 39%. Overall, the 55+ age group tends to use cash more frequently in surveyed European countries, except in Finland. In the 18 to 24 age group, Austria outpaces other countries with a 68% usage rate, while France has the lowest cash usage frequency in this age group at 37%.
In Finland, contactless debit cards are the preferred payment method across all age groups at 71%, while non-contactless debit cards without support for contactless technology are the least popular at 17%.
Contactless Debit Cards Take Second Place Contactless debit cards are the second most frequently used payment method in the surveyed countries, accounting for 56%. In countries like France, Ireland, and the Netherlands, people almost equally use cash and contactless debit cards.
Mobile payments are most popular among individuals aged 18-24 in France (33%) and Ireland (54%). However, it's worth noting that in France, the population uses various payment methods with similar frequency – cash, bank cards, mobile payments, and digital wallets. France is the only European country where the use of checks remains stable across all age groups, unlike in other countries where checks are rarely used. Users in Austria and France also show a favorable attitude towards bank transfers.

Users Seek Anonymity.
Approximately 43% of respondents mention using cash due to its anonymity, while card payments lack this characteristic. Additionally, half of the respondents encountered some problems when using digital payment methods.
64% of respondents consider the speed as the key advantage of contactless cards, and 57% appreciate their convenience. Clear differences can be observed between countries. Specifically, regarding contactless cards, 74% of respondents in Finland agree with the speed characteristic, and 69% agree with their convenience. In Germany, only 54% agree with the speed, and 42% agree with their convenience.
Experts note that there is high potential in the EU for the launch of a unified European mobile payment solution, considering the broad spectrum of user payment behavior characteristics in different countries.
The data is based on an online survey of a total of 8,114 individuals in Germany, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland, conducted in September 2023. The survey was developed by BearingPoint and conducted by the market research institute YouGov in seven mentioned countries.