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The Spanish Government Protects the Acceptance of Cash

Categories : Cash has legal tender status
November 11, 2021
Tags : Acceptance of cash, Legal tender, Regulators, Spain
New legislation in Spain protects freedom of payment choice and guarantees consumer rights by allowing consumers to pay with cash anytime and everywhere.
Guillaume Lepecq

Chair, CashEssentials

This post is also available in: Spanish

Guaranteeing the Acceptance of Cash

The new Royal Decree Law 24/2021 guarantees the freedom of using cash at any time and in any establishment. The new legislation specifically includes a proposal from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs stipulating that “the refusal to accept payment in cash as a means of payment within the limits established by the tax regulations and the prevention and fight against tax fraud” constitutes an infringement in the defense of consumers and users.

This Royal Decree, of 2 November 2021, on the transposition of European directives, published in the Official State Gazette on 3 November, came into force on 4 November.

With this measure, which makes it compulsory to accept cash in any establishment or imposes a penalty in the event of non-compliance, consumers are guaranteed their right to freedom in the choice of payment method and thus puts an end to the recent proposals, which have been made on an ad hoc basis, by certain establishments promoting a cashless policy.

With this regulation, Spain is in line with various international legislative initiatives, such as those promoted in France or in numerous states in the United States, which regulate to guarantee and protect the use of cash. It is also in line with the Court of Justice of the European Union, which last February ruled that cash payments must be accepted throughout Europe.

This legislative measure is fully supported by popular opinion, as shown by the “Survey on the need for the permanence of cash“, commissioned by the Denaria, a platform that brings together joint interests around the defense of cash and that seeks to warn about the risks of limiting cash as a payment method. 90% of Spaniards defend the need for cash as a method of payment, more than 70% of the population considers that cash is necessary in our society, and 77%, moreover, describe it as a ‘public good’.

Harmonisation with the EU anti-money laundering plan

A new challenge for Spain in terms of harmonisation with the European Union and with the majority of neighbouring countries lies in the limit set for cash payments. In this regard, Spain has set a limit of €1,000 for cash payments between companies and professionals, as a result of the modification of the Tax Fraud law approved this year , while the European Commission presented a package of legislative proposals last May, in the framework of the fight against money laundering, which would set a limit of €10,000 for cash payments, a significantly higher barrier than the Spanish threshold.

Legal media have pointed out the huge difference in perception between the Spanish government and the Commission on an issue that seeks to harmonise actions throughout the EU, making it difficult to adjust criteria on the use of cash. The Denaria Platform urges the Government to review the modification of the Tax Fraud Law and to align the amounts established with the European proposals in order to guarantee the freedom of choice of the consumer and commerce.

Spaniards in favour of guaranteeing the acceptance of cash 

The “Survey on the need for the permanence of cash” reveals that nine out of ten Spaniards – more than 30 million people – are in favour of the permanence of cash and opposed to its disappearance in favour of other payment methods. Moreover, up to 88% of the population believe that consumers should be guaranteed the right to pay in cash.

Geographically, the permanence of cash is strongly supported by Spaniards living in smaller towns: 91% in municipalities with between 10,000 and 50,000 inhabitants and 90% in those with less than 10,000 inhabitants.

Along the same lines are the results of the survey conducted by the European Central Bank in July 2020 to analyse the possible impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on citizens’ payment habits. The findings show that four out of ten respondents used cash less frequently since the start of the health crisis, but most of them expected to be able to use it again with the same frequency after the crisis.

“These facts show that there is widespread public support for the continued use of cash and its coexistence with other payment methods, so that everyone can choose the one that suits them best at all times”, says Denaria.




This post is also available in: Spanish