Cash Is Alive And Well – Will Account For $2.2 Trillion in Spend In Western Europe By 2020

Newly released Global Cash Index shows cash growing in 15 Western European countries at 0.7 percent a year.

BOSTON--()--While certain countries in the Eurozone appear to be shifting toward becoming cash-free economies, the majority of European countries show positive cash growth, according to the latest edition of the Global Cash Index.

This study, done collaboratively with Cardtronics, the world’s largest non-bank ATM operator, focuses on the usage of cash for making payments – a metric that is hard to measure since it is not tracked consistently anywhere in the world. The study examines the role of cash as a method of payment between consumers and businesses and its growth overall when compared to cards, checks, direct debit and other methods of payment.

This particular release examined the use of cash in 14 Western European (WU) countries belonging to the European Union (EU) accounting for 89 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the EU. WU countries analyzed include Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Switzerland, a non-EU member, was also examined.

The study’s methodology makes the important distinction between the share of cash as a payments option – e.g. the portion of payments that is made using cash – and the size of the total payments pie as measured by the growth in GDP to estimate the growth of cash.

Overall, in these 15 countries, the total size of the payments pie is growing by 3.1 percent annually, while cash as a share of that payments pie is declining by 2.3 percent per year. So, even though the usage of cash as a share of payment tender is declining, more people are spending which is driving the growth of cash in those 15 countries up slightly - by 0.7 percent.

Together, these 15 countries are estimated to make $2.2 trillion in cash payments by 2020, the study shows.

Belgium, Italy, Malta and Portugal are expected to see double-digit total cash growth over that time period. Among these countries, the total cash use is highest in Germany (about $648 billion) and lowest in Malta at $1.7 billion. Cash currently accounts for 21.4 percent of all transactions in Germany, which ranks fourth behind fellow WU countries Spain (29 percent), Italy (22.3) and Portugal at 21.6 percent. Conversely, Iceland is projected to see a negative cash growth of 35.3 percent.

The study was done in advance of the looming possibility of Brexit, which could drive the usage of cash even further.

To get the complete report by country, download the PYMNTS Global Cash Index.

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Alexander Terzian, 774-219-6132

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