Some of them are still hanging at the supermarket checkouts today: the small signs with the request to pay cashless if possible. For hygienic reasons, many retailers wanted to ban notes and coins from their tills at the height of the corona pandemic.
However, this could not break the Germans’ love of cash, as a current study by the Bundesbank on payment behavior shows. According to this, consumers made a total of 58 percent of their payment transactions with notes and coins last year. The proportion has fallen compared to the last major survey in 2017. At that time it was still 74 percent. However, the lower use of cash was mainly due to the growth in online purchases during the Corona crisis, as the Bundesbank explains.
“Neither digitization nor the pandemic were able to displace cash,” says Johannes Beermann, the Bundesbank board member responsible for cash. “When it comes to making payments, cash is still by far the most popular in Germany.” And that’s likely to remain the case: the vast majority of those surveyed (69 percent) stated that they would continue to want to pay with coins in the future.
According to the survey, they valued the protection of privacy above all, emphasized the good overview of spending – and considered coins and notes to be particularly reliable. The recent disruptions in retail card readers proved them right. Since May 24, thousands of devices from the US company Verifone have failed. For days, consumers were therefore unable to use the card to pay for their purchases at numerous supermarket and drugstore chains.
This is probably why very few consumers rely exclusively on the plastic in their wallets. On average, private individuals carried around 100 euros with them last year – almost as much as four years ago (103 euros). The fact that more and more bank branches are closing is unlikely to change that. Because when it comes to the supply of cash, the retail trade itself increasingly comes into play. Not only can you use your card to pay for your purchases at the checkouts, you can also withdraw cash at the same time.
According to a recent survey by the EHI Retail Institute, almost nine out of ten supermarkets and drugstores offer this service. And consumers seem to be increasingly taking advantage of that. Overall, the companies pay out almost ten percent of their total cash turnover to their customers in this way. This proportion has increased significantly during the course of the corona pandemic. In 2019 it was still 2.8 percent.
But you only get cash if you buy something. In most cases, withdrawals are linked to minimum amounts between five and 20 euros. A necessary evil for the customer, with which some dealers can achieve higher sales. Nevertheless, the industry is dissatisfied. After all, the companies have to pay fees to the banking industry on the amount paid out – on average they are 0.13 percent of the amount withdrawn. Retailers consider this compensation to be unjustified. Because the service also relieves the credit industry. “This gives them the opportunity to increasingly dismantle ATMs and reduce costs,” says the EHI.
However, cash lovers should not write off the card. According to the Bundesbank, 17 percent of those surveyed said that they had discovered other means of payment in the first place because of the corona pandemic. Contactless and mobile payment often makes shopping easier. After all, small amounts can now be paid without entering a PIN or simply by showing the smartphone. For the study, the Bundesbank surveyed a total of more than 5,800 adults between September and December 2021.
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