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Cash payments down 39% as older people abandon cash

According to research carried out by the financial services industry federation Febelfin and Brussels’ Dutch-medium Free University VUB, the number of cash payments made in Belgium has fallen by 39% during the past year. Meanwhile, contactless payment methods with debit cards or banking apps are being used to a significant extent for the first time.  

The number of cash payments has been falling for some years. However, the coronavirus crisis has served to speed up the demise of cash. Surprisingly perhaps, the figures show that cash is the least popular payment method among people aged 65 to 74. They make just 9% of their payments using cash. Among the population as a whole 13% say that the prefer to pay using coins and notes.

The fact that older people are now using cards and apps to pay for their goods and service is related to the public health crisis. Older people are particularly vulnerable if they become infected with coronavirus.

However, the population as a whole is making fewer and fewer cash payment and instead opting to use debit cards or contactless payment methods. In mid-2020 the upper limit for contactless payments in shops was raised from 25 to 50 euro. To make a contactless payment with your bank card, you simply have to hold the card next to payment terminal for a few seconds. No pin code is required.  

Instore payments via banking apps have also become more popular. 35% of Belgians says that they have made at least 1 payment in a shop using their smartphone during the past year. This is up from 30% prior to the coronavirus crisis. This method of payment is most popular among younger people. 25% of 16 to 24-year-olds say that this is their favourite payment method, up from 9% before the coronavirus crisis. Those over the age of 55 are much less familiar with it.

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