The availability of contactless cards, schemes like PayPal and mobile payment services for Apple and Android devices – added to a plethora of credit and debit cards – means global consumers have more ways to complete transactions than ever before. Despite this unprecedented level of choice, old-fashioned cash is still at the heart of how people manage their money and make regular purchases.
According to the latest PYMNTS.com Global Cash Index, cash is the most widely accepted method of payment in the biggest Western European economies, where €2.1 trillion of cash transactions were completed last year. Data from payment processor TSYS has shown that, in the US last year, debit and credit cards were the most popular options for everyday purchases and online shopping, but cash was top for low-value transactions.
Here are five of the main reasons why consumers continue to value cash and are likely to carry on using it for many years to come.
Sometimes, it’s just easier to have cash in your pocket. Paying at a parking meter, leaving a tip in a restaurant or catching an emergency cab are just a few situations where cash offers maximum convenience.
Card acceptance is increasing all the time and mobile payments are set to become more and more common, but for those who have little interest in adopting the latest technologies or being part of the trend, there is much to be said for the universal usability of cash.
Peace of mind
Confidence in financial services was damaged by the economic crisis, with some consumers losing faith in banks and questioning whether putting money into investments and savings accounts was the best option.
New regulations and legislation passed in the wake of the crisis mean banks are more accountable than ever before, with various measures in place to ensure that the money in customer accounts is protected. Research from the University of Michigan has shown that confidence in financial institutions has been steadily increasing since 2011. Despite these positive steps, the peace of mind that comes with having funds in cash will always appeal to some, despite potential risks such as loss and theft.
Card acceptance isn’t universal
It’s getting increasingly rare, but it’s still possible to come across retailers or sales outlets that don’t accept card payments, or charge you for the luxury. This is more likely if you spend a lot of time shopping at outdoor markets or small, independent stores.
Shoppers might also want to bear in mind that it costs businesses money to take credit card payments, which could be a significant factor for people who feel loyal to small enterprises and want to support their local economy.
Completing card payments – particularly contactless transactions – is getting quicker and easier all the time, but this means the temptation to make a swift impulse buy is there pretty much every time you enter a store.
Physically handing over cash makes you feel much more engaged with your spending, which makes budgeting easier. You can also ensure you only spend what you can afford by carrying a certain amount with you and leaving your card at home.
The younger generation adopt the latest innovations and tech-enabled services without a second thought, but older consumers might be a bit more skeptical about entrusting their financial details to digital processes and systems they don’t understand.
Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of US consumers who have not adopted mobile banking and two-thirds (67 per cent) of those who don’t use mobile payments are put off by concerns about the security of the technology, according to Federal Reserve data.