Cashless payments outgrowing ATM withdrawals — but not by much

Cashless payments are growing strongly worldwide as a result of increased bank account holding, continued growth of e-commerce, and general migration of cash-based transactions to electronic payment instruments.

However, a new study by RBR finds, cashless payments are increasing at a rate only slightly faster than ATM cash withdrawals, suggesting that cash is still favored as a means of payment by a significant proportion of the world population, an RBR press release said.

Cards

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According to the RBR report, “Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2020,” accountholders made 417 billion cashless payments in 60 countries in 2014. Cards accounted for 55 percent of such payments in 2014, up from 48 percent in 2010.

Indeed, cards have achieved the fastest growth rate of any cashless payment instrument, at 12 percent per year since 2010. Their use for low-value payments is on the rise, a trend supported by the rollout of contactless cards and point-of-sale terminals.

Cards make up the greatest proportion of cashless payments in every region; their share is highest in North America and the Middle East and Africa, and lowest in Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

Meanwhile, direct debit has seen its global share decline slightly since 2010, despite increasing by 3 percent per year. Its highest share is in western Europe, at 23 percent.

Checks

Checks are the least common form of cashless payments; their numbers fell 10 percent per year between 2010 and 2014. Even in the U.S., France and India — countries where checks are still used fairly regularly — they are declining. Their highest regional share of cashless payments is in North America (12 percent); in central and eastern Europe their share is negligible.

Cash

While cashless payments have increased 7.6 percent annually since 2010, RBR found that ATM cash withdrawals during the period have been rising almost as quickly, at 7.1 percent.

While cards are increasingly used in sectors that previously relied heavily upon cash, demand for cash remains strong in some regions. Even where consumers have embraced other payment methods, they have shown reluctance to completely abandon cash, RBR said.

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