Americans Aren’t Convinced About A Future Cashless Society

February 8, 2018

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Demographics & Audiences | Europe & Middle East | Financial Services | Industries | North America | UK

Just 1 in 5 American adults say they use cash every day, a rate lower than found in other countries including the UK (26%), China (34%) and Indonesia (80%), finds YouGov in a recent report. And while Americans also are less likely than adults in some other countries to use cash when making purchases in-store, that doesn’t translate to beliefs about a future cashless society.

To arrive at its conclusions, YouGov surveyed more than 10,000 adults across 7 countries: Denmark; Sweden; Germany; US; UK; China; and Indonesia.

Of those, Denmark and Sweden appear to be far less cash-oriented than the others; respondents in these countries are the least likely to use cash every day (6-7% reported doing so) and also the least likely to use cash when making purchases in-store (~60% doing so).

By contrast, respondents in Indonesia are the most reliant on cash: 92% profess to buying in-store using cash, and 80% said they use cash every day.

The US Goes Heavy on Plastic

While the US isn’t too dependent on cash, respondents do use credit cards at a higher rate than others. Fully 86% said they use some form of credit card payments when in-store, most commonly via chip (47%) or swipe (34%).

A high proportion of adults in the UK (79%) and Sweden (76%) also use credit cards to pay for in-store purchases, while fewer than half in Germany (48%) and Indonesia (42%) say they do so.

Just 5% in the US use contactless credit card payments, though, which sits considerably behind other countries including the UK (24%), Denmark (20%), Germany (14%) and Sweden (12%).

Americans Not So Sure About A Cashless Society

In a curious twist, respondents in Indonesia – the most cash-reliant of those surveyed – are the most likely to believe that their country will be a fully cashless society at some point in the future. An impressive 8 in 10 feel that that will be the case, against just 6% who don’t.

The US sits at the other end of the spectrum: fewer than half (46%) believe that the US will be a fully cashless society in the future. That made it the only country of the 7 tracked in which only a minority believed in a cashless future.

Previous research on this topic had found more confidence in a cashless society: in 2016, a Gallup survey revealed that more than 6 in 10 (62%) US adults felt it likely the US would be a cashless society in their lifetime. Most young Americans surveyed at the time seemed already comfortable with the prospect of a cashless society: a majority (56%) of 18-29-year-olds had said they were comfortable not carrying cash, and only a minority (42%) reported having cash on them at all times.

A comprehensive MarketingCharts study released at the time, Marketing Financial Services to Millennials, demonstrated that Millennials (18-34) were 13% less likely than the adult population to often prefer to pay cash for things they buy. The study also identified a particular subset of Millennials who are the most likely to envision a cashless society: affluent Millennials.

More details from YouGov’s report can be downloaded here.

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