Society can’t do without cash, says central bank

Debit card use is increasing steadily but cash remains the dominant form of payment in the Netherlands, according to a new report from the Dutch central bank.

The volume of debit card payments at Dutch points of sale increased from €81bn in 2010 to €84bn in 2012, while cash withdrawals at ATMs dropped from €52bn to €49bn.

Yet cash is still much more popular as a payment method, with 3.8 billion cash payments made in shops in 2012, compared with 2.5 billion card transactions.

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Dutch retailers have been keen to encourage the use of cash and a number of shops have moved to card-only payments. The Albert Heijn supermarket chain, for example, has introduced card-only tills in some branches.

The central bank said it expects cash to remain indispensable for some time to come. While it is not opposed per se to experiments with cashless shops, the central bank ‘would regard any larger-scale refusal or pricing of cash payments as undesirable’.

Cash has some advantages over electronic payments, the central bank said. A cash payment is quicker and also serves as the main alternative if electronic payment systems break down due to a technical failure or cyber attack.

Read the report summary (English)