D.he virus pandemic has given the euro area a major boost to cashless shopping for purchases, according to a survey by the ECB. Forty percent of respondents said they have used bills and coins less frequently since the virus pandemic began, according to a survey by the European Central Bank (ECB) published on Wednesday. Of these, almost 90 percent want to continue doing so after the pandemic. The main reason given was that electronic payment – for example contactless using an EC card – had become more useful during the pandemic. The ECB interviewed 17,779 people in the last two weeks of July.
“The trend towards cashless payments appears to have accelerated during the pandemic, although the solidification of these preliminary results is still uncertain,” said ECB Director Fabio Panetta. Even before the pandemic, cashless payments were on the rise in the euro area. According to another survey in 2019, cash was still the most popular means of payment at the checkout. 73 percent of the payments made when shopping were made with euro notes and coins. However, that is clearly less than three years earlier, when it was 79 percent.
ECB wants to guarantee access to cash
Paying by card for smaller amounts at the till is on the rise, according to the ECB. The share increased by five percentage points to 24 percent from 2016 to 2019. In addition, the new contactless technology is now used for almost four out of ten card users when shopping. “It is extremely important for us that consumers can choose their payment method freely,” explained Panetta. The aim is to guarantee access to cash in the euro area and at the same time to promote innovations in electronic payment transactions. “This also includes our work on the possible introduction of a digital euro,” explained the central bank director.