In the land of Rioja and tapas, cash continues to top the charts. Indeed, in 2016 Spaniards spent €253 billion accounting for 22.9% of all payments. This is largely due to its large rural population (20.2%) and above average access to ATMs – one of the highest in Europe with 107 ATMs per 100,000 people.
Although a slight decline has been recorded in recent years, a big portion of it is due to the slowed economy since the 2008 financial crisis. Another factor influencing cash usage is the increasing accessibility to cash-back options at retail locations. This has not only encouraged Spaniards to make greater use of their debit cards, but it has also facilitated their access to cash.
Since 2015, some banks are trying to discourage this affinity for tangible money by imposing fees when withdrawals are not made at the card-issuer’s ATM, a policy that has affected cash withdrawal results.
Although a slight decline in cash usage has been recorded, the PYMNTS.com Global Cash Index predicts a decrease to €282 billion by 2022, but that its usage will remain significant. “Ease of access, store-of-value and a sense of security are some of the many factors that make cash one of the leading payment instruments in Spain.” (Global Cash Index)