The Dutch central bank DNB said on Tuesday it had concerns about the decline in the use of cash, saying the lightning-fast rise in digital payments could lead to vulnerable groups having limited access to goods and services.
While apps and other digital methods of payment are rising in popularity, ‘there is a risk that certain groups of consumers could be left behind and cut out of the payment systems,’ the bank said in a new report.
‘To make sure that everyone can continue to participate, paying in cash must remain an option. At the same time, the accessibility and ease of electronic payment systems should be improved.’
Figures published last month by payment association Betaalvereniging Nederland show 41.4% of payments last year were made in cash, down from 45% a year earlier. And 40% of payments made using direct debit cards were contactless, over double the 2016 figure.
Cash is being phased out in Dutch shops and on trams and buses. Amsterdam’s public transport system has been cash free since earlier this year, and various shops, such as Marqt and the Vlaamse Broodhuis, have never accepted coins or notes. Supermarkets are also developing ‘pin only’ checkouts.
The Financieele Dagblad points out that the Dutch central bank is following the line set by Sweden’s central bank, Riksbank, which has warned that seniors, the less educated and tourists are suffering under the rise of cashless transactions.
Just 15% of all transactions in Sweden are made by cash, the paper said.
Petra Hielkema, who heads the central bank’s payments division, told the paper that cash is necessary in periods of crisis, during electronic breakdowns and in helping people deal with debt – because physical banknotes inspire confidence.