Home The Countries Most Likely to Support a Cashless Society

The Countries Most Likely to Support a Cashless Society

The number of people making cashless payments has soared over the last decade, with the number of Brits paying in cash falling from 63% to just 34%, according to the Access to Cash Review. This decrease and other findings in this report suggests Britain will become a cashless society by 2026.

It’s not just Britain though. Alternative electronic forms of money, such as debit cards, credit cards, Apple or Google Pay, and money transfer apps, are becoming more widely accepted and used worldwide, too. With people deciding to send money online more regularly, could it be international money transfers are set to increase? 

Updated: 29/06/2021
Read time: 7 minutes

We analysed data collected by YouGov to determine which nations believe the world should become a cashless society and are therefore most likely to adopt more modern approaches to currency.

Worldwide Research

Residents from 21 different countries around the world were surveyed on whether Britain’s move towards a cashless society would be “positive” or “negative”. The answers gave a clear idea of the countries most approving of the switch, and conversely, those that favour more traditional payment processes.

As you can see from the results, not one single continent votes overwhelmingly in favour of going cashless. Countries analysed in Europe, Asia and North America are divided in their opinion; this may make the switch to a cashless society complicated.  

The top 10 countries supporting a cashless society

With the cashless movement given a ‘10 year boost’, more companies and customers are starting to shun traditional cash payments. We looked at whether this comes as a welcome change to residents of each country, or if they would miss dealing with notes and coins.

Countries most likely to support cashless society

Topping the list of countries most likely to support a completely cashless society is India, with 79% of respondents showing positive feelings towards the motion. Out of these individuals, 21% stated they would use cashless payment even on small purchases, like buying a pack of chewing gum. 

Coming in second place is Malaysia as 65% of residents had confidence that cashless was the way to go. Not far behind are the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia, where 63% of individuals surveyed were welcoming of the idea of exclusively using electronic forms of money. 

Of the remaining countries in the top 10, over half of participants in Vietnam, Singapore, Italy, the Philippines, and Thailand would opt for a credit card, mobile wallet, or another cashless method when making a very expensive purchase, such as buying a new electronic device, thus voting in favour of a cashless society. 

Which countries prefer traditional currency vs cashless?

Not every country is largely in favour of an entirely cashless society. Many respondents in our worldwide survey stated they would only be swayed away from physical currency when making a “very expensive purchase”.

countries least likely to support cashless society

Respondents from China and Hong Kong were on the fence about going fully cashless; in both countries just under half (46%) of respondents said they felt positive about the thought of going cashless. Interestingly, three-quarters of those surveyed from China find it easy to access cash from a free ATM, which may explain their preference. 

Positivity plummets in Australia, with only 35% of respondents welcoming a cashless society. Canada is not far behind either, with only a third (32%) of respondents preferring to ditch their coins. 

Denmark, Spain and the United Kingdom follow behind, with 31%, 27% and 26% of respondents “happy” about turning cashless, respectively. In fact, our analysis found that most individuals surveyed from these European countries expressed they would not use an electronic form of payment on a cheap purchase. 

However, it was France at the very bottom of our list, with French natives struggling to find enthusiasm about the idea of becoming a cashless society. Germany (20%) followed closely behind with 20% of nationals welcoming of a cashless society, and the USA and Sweden after that (24%). 

Advantages and disadvantages of a cashless society

Interested in finding out more about the positives and negatives cited by respondents in the YouGov study, we delved deeper to identify the pros and cons of a cashless society.

Advantages of a cashless society

  • It’s good for the environment – less resources wasted on money production
  • Cash-free payments are significantly quicker, more convenient, and require zero contact
  • It’s easy to keep on top of your money and track any problems or missing money
  • It can boost your credit score, which is needed to qualify for loans and mortgages
  • Crime will be reduced – cash is untraceable, so plays the main role in crime, less cash would result in a decline in robberies
  • It’s cheaper for countries – cash infrastructure costs a lot to run (in Britain, it’s somewhere around £5 billion a year)

Disadvantages of a cashless society

  • There’s less interaction between individuals
  • Digital finance is susceptible to IT failures and cyber-attacks
  • It’s threatening the high street due to the increase in online shopping
  • It can be harder to budget – it’s easy to spend and exceed your limit when making cashless transactions and become less aware of your daily outgoings
  • As it’s so much easier to spend, it can encourage bad spending habits

How has COVID-19 impacted cash? 

COVID-19 has affected almost every area of our lives and the money transfer industry is no different. Due to the emergence of coronavirus, cashless payments are the preferred payment option for businesses and individuals alike, as the act of handing over banknotes could lead to an expedited spread of the virus. 

To investigate the relationship between COVID-19 and cash, we investigated the countries less likely to use physical money since the outbreak began.

countries using less cash because of covid

More than half of respondents in the top six countries reveal they have used less cash since the COVID-19 outbreak, with Thailand topping the list with a huge 57% of people choosing to forgo traditional payments.  

Even though only 26% of those surveyed in the United Kingdom were supporting a cashless society, 50% said they have been wary of dealing with physical money since the pandemic started. However, this could be due to the companies encouraging digital alternatives for making payments.

Although India was the most welcoming of going cashless, only 47% of survey-takers have used cash less often since the coronavirus outbreak. However, this may be because the focus on cashless means were already solidified before the outbreak.  

lowest countries using cash because of covid

The payment methods of countries least affected by coronavirus include the Philippines, Singapore, and Italy as 45%, 44%, and 41% of respondents felt coronavirus affected the amount they use cash, respectively. 

Denmark, Taiwan and the United States are among the lowest with 29%, 27% and 25% of people surveyed contributing a change in their payment habits to the virus. However, it is Sweden at the bottom of the list, as only 11% of participants saw a decrease in their cash usage due to COVID-19. But following the news that the country is already aiming to become the first cashless society, this low percentage does not look incredibly shocking.

Bottom line

In a fast-moving digital world, it seems inevitable to gravitate towards predominately digital forms of currency. By understanding the stance different countries take on this subject, we are able to anticipate the territories most likely to roll out cashless payments in the near future. Socio-economic factors dictate the reasons for demonstrated desire or resistance towards the implementation of electronic forms of payment, and for obvious reasons this differs country to country. MoneyTransfers is proud to conduct worldwide research and present important findings which can help better inform the outlook of diverse global economies.

Methodology

Interested in money trends, MoneyTransfers.com analysed the latest data from YouGov to establish which countries in the world would most like a cashless society. To achieve this, 25,823 adults from 21 different countries across the world were surveyed. 

The 21 countries surveyed alongside respective sample size: Canada (1,009), India (1,010), UK (1,734), Germany (2,049), France (1,011), Denmark (1,010), Sweden (1,007), United States (1,198), Italy (1,010), Spain (1,020), United Arab Emirates (1,000), Australia (1,058), China (1,023), Hong Kong (1,023), Indonesia (2,133), Malaysia (1,135), Philippines (1,102), Singapore (1,056), Taiwan (1,041), Thailand (2,091) and Vietnam (1,103). 

To discover which countries in the world would most like a cashless society, respondents in each respective countries were asked, “Do you think it would be a positive or negative if your country became cashless, meaning only electronic forms of money (e.g. debit cards, credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay etc.) would be accepted?”

For this question, respondents could pick one answer from a choice of six possible options that included: ‘Very positive’, ‘somewhat positive’, ‘no difference’, ‘somewhat negative’, ‘very negative’ and ‘don’t know’. 

To make the analysis of results more digestible and easier, the ‘very positive’ and ‘somewhat positive’ results were grouped together as a ‘net positive’ result and the ‘very negative’ and ‘somewhat negative’ results were grouped together as a ‘net negative’ result. For our analysis and review of results, the ‘net positive’ results were focused on for each respective country included in the research. 

Additionally, to get a firm understanding of what impact COVID-19 has had on the use of physical cash around the world, respondents in every country were asked “What impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on your use of cash?”.

For this question, respondents could pick one answer from a choice of five possible options that included: ‘I’ve paid in cash more often since the pandemic’, ‘I’ve paid in cash less often since the pandemic’, ‘no impact – I mostly didn’t use cash before and still don’t’, ‘no impact- I mostly used cash before and still do’ and ‘don’t know’. 

Whilst not the focal aspect of the research, we looked at the response rate for the ‘I’ve paid in cash less often since the pandemic’ option in each of the respective countries for additional context and statistics. 

Keith Hodges
Written by
Keith Hodges

Keith is a digital specialist with a background in the financial industry, both as a marketeer and a journalist. Keith joined MoneyTransfers.com in order to take the business to the next level and expand our offering in multiple international money transfer markets.