The European Central Bank (ECB) published its latest Study on the PaymentA transfer of funds which discharges an obligation on the part of a payer vis-à-vis a payee. More Attitudes of Consumers in the EuroThe name of the European single currency adopted by the European Council at the meeting held in Madrid on 15-16 December 1995. See ECU. More Area (SPACE) in December 2022. CashEssentials published a summary of SPACE 2022 findings for the euro area here. This article explores cross-country differences within the European Union.
Graph 1. Euro Area: Share of Payment Instruments in Point-of-Sale (POS) Transactions, 2022
1. By Number of Transactions2. By Value of TransactionsSource: ECB (2022: 19).
Graph 2. Euro Area: Share of Payment Instruments used for P2P Payments, 2022
Source: ECB (2022: 26).
The use of cash declined in the euro area in 2022 compared with 2019 (see Map 1).
Map 1. Euro Area: ChangeThis is the action by which certain banknotes and/or coins are exchanged for the same amount in banknotes/coins of a different face value, or unit value. See Exchange. More in the Share of Cash Use in POS Transaction, 2019-2022
Source: ECB (2022: 20-21).
On average, people in the euro area had €83 in their wallets in 2022. Respondents in Austria, Luxemburg, Cyprus, Lithuania, Ireland, and Estonia reported having cash holdings of over €100 (see Graph 3). Respondents in the Netherlands (€46), Portugal (€53), and France (€61) had the lowest cash holdings.
Graph 3. Euro Area: Average Amount of Cash in Wallet at the Beginning of the Day, 2022Source: ECB (2022: 45).
Regarding the precautionary demand for cash, people in the euro area kept higher cash reserves in 2022 (37%) compared to 2019 (34%) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, and consumers’ budgeting practices.
Graph 4. Euro Area: Share of Consumers Keeping Extra Cash Reserves, 2022
While most people (85%) in the euro area received no share of regular income in cash in 2022, 6-7% of people in Latvia, Italy, Austria, Spain, Slovakia, and Ireland reported receiving up to a quarter of their income in cash; that figure increased to 11% in Greece (see Graph 5).
Graph 5. Euro Area: Share of Regular Income Received in Cash, 2022
As Graph 6 shows, obtaining cash from ATMs worsened the most between 2019 and 2022 in Belgium (12%), the Netherlands (7%), Luxemburg (7%), Cyprus (6%), and Spain (4%). The share of respondents perceiving access to cash withdrawals to be difficult decreased the most in Malta (6%), Estonia (4%), and Slovenia (4%).
Graph 6. Euro Area: Share of Respondents Perceiving Access to Cash Withdrawals to Be Fairly or Very Difficult, 2022
The highest shares of respondents preferring to obtain cash by the source of withdrawals (Graph 7) were
Graph 7. Euro Area: Sources of Cash Withdrawals, 2022
While fees for cash withdrawals vary across countries (see Graph 8), significant shares of respondents in Ireland (24%), Belgium (14%), Slovakia (10%), Estonia (10%), and Slovenia (9%) reported they always paid a fee when withdrawing cash, pointing to problems in the access of cash.
Graph 8. Euro Area: Share of Respondents Likely to Pay Fees for Cash Withdrawals, 2022
Across the euro area, 22% of respondents preferred paying with cash in 2022, down from 27% in 2019. By country (Graph 9):
Graph 9. Euro Area: Preferred Payment Instrument by Country, 2022
The preference for cash between 2019 and 2022 (Graph 10) increased the most in Belgium (9%), Estonia (7%), France (5%), and Austria (3%). It declined the most in Cyprus (-25%), Germany (-13%), Malta (-11%), Latvia, and Italy (both with -10%).
Graph 10. Euro Area: Preferences for Cash, 2019-2022
Most people (60%) in the euro area consider having the option to pay with cash very or fairly important (Graph 11). Support was more robust in Germany (69%), Greece (69%), and Austria (66%). Having a cash option was also crucial for pluralities in Slovakia (46%), the Netherlands (46%), and Estonia (47%).
Graph 11. Euro Area: Importance of Having Cash as a Payment Option, 2022
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