The Swiss are turning their backs on cash

Even the Helvetians saw their cuti – but little by little. Non-cash means of payment have made a breakthrough among our Swiss neighbors, who are renowned for their reluctance to do without cash. While 70% of non-recurring transactions (food, clothing, leisure, etc.) were settled in cash in 2017, they were only 43% to be settled in 2020, according to a study by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) .

“Italian-speaking Swiss, people aged 55 and over as well as low- and middle-income households show an above-average preference for cash,” said the study’s authors. On the contrary, debit card payments soared to 33% (from 22% in 2017), while credit card payments rose to 13% (from 5% in 2017). And according to those polled, this trend is set to increase in the coming years.

Mobile payment applications also recorded solid growth. Having played only a marginal role in this survey in 2017 (11%), in 2020, 48% of respondents said they had one. Over the same period, their use in terms of volume and value increased from practically zero to 5% and 4% respectively.

The 1,000-franc banknotes resist

Switzerland and neighboring Germany, two countries where some companies still do not accept payment cards, have long resisted the disappearance of cash – far from what can be observed in Sweden, for example. But with the coronavirus pandemic, for a third of those polled, hygiene issues seemed to prevail over the anonymity cherished by the Swiss.

With their 1,000-franc banknotes (912 euros), the Helvetians also stand out from other industrialized countries. In the euro zone, since the end of April 2019, the 500 euro banknotes, suspected of facilitating illegal activities, have not even been issued.

The SNB survey found that 40% of those polled said they had had at least one 1,000-franc note in their possession in the past two years. The main reason given was payment for goods and services.

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