The Malta Independent 26 May 2019, Sunday

Cash is king for Maltese consumers, ECB study finds

Helena Grech Monday, 27 November 2017, 11:21 Last update: about 2 years ago

Consumers in Malta and Greece prefer to pay for goods or services in cash when compared to their   counterparts in the Eurozone, a study by the European Central Bank shows.

The ECB carried out a study, the first of its kind, into the use of cash and other payment methods among all Eurozone members. Findings highlight how the method of payments among EU member states varies greatly, however the use of cash is still prevalent.


In Malta, where cash is preferred by many people, it was found that 92 per cent of all transactions involve coins and notes. This is almost matched by Greece and Cyprus at 88 per cent each, while the figure plunges for the Netherlands – at just 45 per cent.

The ECB surveyed 65,000 people across the Eurozone for ten months, up till July 2016.

A correlation was found between the use of cash at Point of Sales and the level of card acceptance in the country. This is supported by the case of Malta, among others, were the use of cash is among the highest in the Eurozone while ‘perceived card acceptance’ is the second lowest, just before Greece.

Cyprus proved to be an exception where it was found that both cash usage and perceived card acceptability are high. Despite this, the report draws a conclusion that in general, increased infrastructure for cashless payments in countries with lower card acceptance, this could decrease the amount of cash-payments.

The Eurozone average was found to be €65. Germany is registered as the country where people carry the most cash, at €103, followed by Luxembourgers €102 and Austrians €89. On the other hand, Portuguese carried, on average, the least amount at €29, followed by the French at €32 and Latvians at €41.

The study found that age and gender played a big factor. Men are likely to carry an average of €12 more than women and the oldest age groups carried up to €43 more than those from the youngest age groups.

In terms of the average card transaction value, this was found to be highest in Luxembourg, followed by Malta and Germany. The highest average values ranged from €70.78 to €51.38.

Malta also registered on the high-side when it comes to paying rent. The study found that on average, in the Euroarea (excluding Germany due to the systems in place) six per cent was said to be paid in cash, while 26 per cent of all rent in Greece is said to be paid in cash. This figure drops to 15 per cent for Slovakia and Malta.

Despite the correlation found were the lowest share of respondents reported receiving their income in cash tended to make less cash payments, Malta was an exception to this. In Malta it was found that the proportion of people receiving their income in cash was lower than the Eurozone average; however the use of cash for payments still reigns supreme.

Cyprus is the only country where a clear majority responded that they prefer to use cash (the options were to prefer to use cash, prefer to use card or other non-cash types, no clear preference or ‘don’t know’). In Malta, Austria, Ireland, Greece and Spain, the largest share of respondents stated they prefer to use cash over other methods of payments. 

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