A recent survey concludes that Germany is far from getting on board with the dream of a cashless society - not because it lacks the infrastructure, but because the people just won't let go of their beloved Bargeld.
The frustration of cash-only shops in a country of far too few cash machines is one all too often documented by our reporters here at The Local.
But even though the rest of the world seems to be moving closer to completely digital or card-based systems, it doesn’t seem likely that Germany will catch up anytime soon, especially when looking at a troubling new survey.
The report by bank ING-DiBa released earlier this month found that 84 percent of German respondents said they would never completely give up their use of cold hard cash. This was much higher than the European average of 76 percent.
Germany was second behind only Italy - and only slightly - with this sentiment: 85 percent of Italians said they refused to absolutely let go of their contante.
The study compared the responses of people from 13 different European countries, as well as of Australia and the United States.
But when choice was involved, Germans sang a slightly different tune. Thirty percent of Germans said that if it were based on their own will to go cashless, they would. Roughly 70 percent said they would not choose to live in such a world without currency-stuffed wallets.
The study authors noted the discrepancy between the resolute 84 percent of respondents who said they would never give up all cash, and the later 70 percent who said they still would not if it were their choice.
The authors presumed that this could be because at least some of the respondents believed that the world will not reach a completely cashless society within their lifetimes, and therefore in the first question - perhaps resigning themselves to this notion - concluded that it would make sense to always keep a reserve of cash.
And Germans certainly do stockpile more cash than other nationalities. Ninety percent of Germany said that they “often” have cash on them, compared to the European average of 79 percent. This put Germans at the very top of the chart.
And respondents said on average that they had about €63 at that moment in their pockets. The European average was €52.
Germans were also much more likely to dole out paper notes for everyday things than the rest of Europe, with at least half saying they paid cash for groceries, restaurants, public transit, and gifts.
Americans surveyed were much less likely to pay cash for even low-cost items than European or German participants: Just 40 percent of those from the US said they generally shell out dollars rather than use cards or other methods to cover costs between €11 to €50. Half of Europeans overall preferred cash for such expenses, while about 70 percent of Germans stuck to paper.
Part of Germans’ fondness for cash is likely due to their scepticism of more modern payment methods. Less than half of Germans said cashless payments were highly or very highly secure, while across Europe the average was 55 percent. Germans also estimated cash to be vastly safer than Europeans overall: 77 percent of Germans said paper money is highly safe, while the European average was 59 percent.
“Cash is perhaps not the absolute favourite child of Germans, but only a few want to give up the feeling of having coins and notes in their pockets or wallets,” the report concludes.
“While other countries are further along and for them the so-called ‘cashless society’ could one day become a reality, in Germany it remains a fantasy for the foreseeable future. Germans are less change-shy than frequently thought, but altogether they do not want to let go of cash. Cash remains king.”
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