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ING mobile banking survey points toward cashless future

According to ING’s fifth annual survey – ING International Survey Mobile Banking 2017: Cashless Society ­– new digital alternatives to cash are on the rise. Findings suggest that a cashless society is within reach, and is now even seen by many Europeans as a more desirable option.

Results are in from the fifth annual survey on mobile banking by ING, and according to findings, Europeans are becoming more and more receptive to the notion of a cashless society. To summarise its survey findings, ING has published a report – ING International Survey Mobile Banking 2017: Cashless Society. As in previous years, this edition of the mobile banking survey investigates retail consumer behaviours on a global scale in terms of spending, saving, investing, and general feelings about money.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos in February of 2017, and covered 15 different countries, with approximately 1,000 adults surveyed in each country, except for Luxembourg (~500). Participants responded via online questionnaire, with the total sample size for the report amounting to 14,692, respectively. In the image below, countries included in the survey, which were chiefly European, have been indicated in orange.

In the results of this year’s survey around one in five (21%) European respondents stated that they now rarely carry physical notes and coins, and 54% of adults agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “I use physical cash much less than 12 months ago.” Of the latter group, nearly eight in ten (78%) respondents indicated expectations to continue decreasing their use of cash in the coming 12 months.

The results of the 2017 survey reportedly line up with past indications from surveys carried out in 2016, 2015, and 2014, which similarly found that consumers are reducing reliance on physical cash. Transactions are increasingly made via non-cash methods, including mobile payment applications. Interestingly, a conspicuous new segment can be found within the population that has seemingly abandoned cash altogether. The subset reported using cash once a month, once a year, or even less often than that.

The prospect of a comfortable life without cash may have once been a far-off fantasy, but that is no longer the case. Cashless society has become a realistic proposition, and results suggest that widespread acceptance in Europe may not be far off. Around a third (34%) agreed that, were it up to them, they would go completely cashless, although results did differ between countries.

Country differences

Contrasting consumer attitudes were discernible in survey findings from country to country; the desire to go cashless, for example, was more pronounced in emerging economies than in developed economies. Although one might sooner expect countries that have already implemented sophisticated digital payments infrastructures to be more likely to embrace a cashless society, this was evidently not the case. This difference was clearly demonstrated in Turkey, for example, where 42% of respondents stated that they would be willing to go completely cash-free, compared to only 23% of Dutch, and 21% of British respondents – the lowest two percentages from all countries surveyed.

Authorities favour cashless

Increasingly, countries are actively discouraging, or even outlawing the use of large cash payments, and vendors often prefer non-cash transactions. Survey results found that only 6% of Europeans believe their finances would be affected if the largest denomination cash note were to be withdrawn in their country. This result is somewhat unsurprising, as large denomination notes are already in the process of being phased out in several countries, including for instance, the EUR 500 bill, which is set for withdrawal by end 2018.

Cash may be retreating, but it hasn’t died yet

Although the role of cash in day-to-day life is undoubtedly in decline, it could still be awhile before it disappears completely. This probability is emphasised by the finding that, despite a growing preference for cashless transactions, around three quarters of European participants nevertheless indicated that they would never be capable of going completely cashless.


To read the detailed findings from the ING International Survey Mobile Banking 2017: Cashless Society, click here.

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