Banque de France Bulletin

Three years after the beginning of the health crisis, cash is holding its own against other means of payment in France

Published on 20 April 2023
Authors : Sophie Allain des Beauvais, Louis-Alexandre Bayol, Emmanuelle Laplace, Isabelle Valdès-Curien

Bulletin n°245, article 5. The European Central Bank has published its latest survey on household payment habits in the euro area, covering the period from October 2021 to June 2022. This is the first such survey on the post Covid period. Although cash is facing an ever wider range of digital means of payment, it remains the most widely used means of payment in France (and in the Eurosystem) at points of sale. Furthermore, households tend to value the option of paying in cash. Levels of acceptability and accessibility of cash are also considered very satisfactory.

Image Breakdown of means of payment at point of sale by transaction volume, in France Description The graph introduces breakdown of means of payment at point of sale by transaction volume, in France/ 1. In 2016 : - cash : 68 ; - cards : 27 ; - mobile apps : 0 ; - other (cheques, transfers, etc.) : 5. 2. In 2019 :  - cash : 57 ; - cards : 37 ; - mobile apps : 1 ; - other (cheques, transfers, etc.) : 5. 3. In 2022 :  - cash : 50 ; - cards : 43 ; - mobile apps : 2 ; - other (cheques, transfers, etc.) : 4. Source : European Central Bank, SPACE II survey (2022); Banque de France calculations. Note: SPACE - Study of the Payment attitudes of consumers in the euro area. Key figures: 92% of consumers fint it easy or very easy to access a cash withdrawal point. 57% of consumers consider it important to have the option to pay in cash. 20% of non-recurreing payments are now made online.
Breakdown of means of payment at point of sale by transaction volume, in France

1. Cash use in France continues to decline but to a lesser extent than in the rest of the euro area

Following two initial sur veys conducted in 2016 and 2019, the European Central Bank (ECB) commissioned another survey on household payment attitudes in the euro area for the period between the end of 2021 to mid-2022, titled SPACE II. The relative use of cash continues to decline, losing 7 percentage points in terms of volume at points of sale over three years in France, a similar trend to that observed between the first two surveys (down 9 percentage points).

Although significant, this decline appears to be more moderate than in the rest of the euro area (down 14 percentage points, see details by country in Map b).

This has become a long-term trend. However, new consumer habits have developed since the health crisis that have also contributed to the continued decline of cash-use at points of sale. In particular:

  • Persistent competition from cashless means of payment requiring less handling or physical contact (see Box 1 below). Thus the use of payment cards continues to rise, recording an increase of 8 percentage points  between 2019 and 2022 in France (against 9 percentage points in the euro area), driven in particular by contactless payment, which now accounts for more than one out of every two card payments at points of sale (51% in France and 62% on average in the euro area, compared with 38% and 41% respectively in 2019).
  • Lockdowns and travel restrictions favoured the growth of online shopping (up 8 percentage points in France and up 11 percentage points in the euro area since 2019) as purchases usually made in shops were made online, due to the closure or non-accessibility of physical sales outlets. Thus, in 2022, 20% (12% in 2019) of non recurring payments were made online in France (17% in the euro area), mainly and increasingly for basic necessities (food and daily supplies, see Chart 1) that traditionally were paid in cash.

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Updated on 12 April 2024