Industry News

Europe leading the pack in global “dash from cash”

Last November we used the release of optimistic projections about the US market for mobile payments to remind readers that America is only only one datapoint on a much larger mobile money growth map. Now some new data reminds us that, despite its ongoing and well-publicized economic problems, Europe continues to play a leading role in the replacement of cash with non-cash payment systems.

Let's get rid of these.

Let’s get rid of these.

According to this article published on Monday by Let’s Talk Payments, five of the seven countries in the world where non-cash payments are most dominate as a share of the total value of consumer payments are in Europe. With a stunning 93% of all consumer payments by transaction value conducted cashlessly, Belgium not only leads Europe, but the world. Ranked by the same figure the other European contenders are France (92%), the UK and Sweden (both 89%) and the Netherlands (85%). The two non-European countries in the pack are Canada (90%) and Australia (86%).

Interestingly, these figures diverge significantly from data on debit card penetration, where the pack is led by the Netherlands (98%), followed by Sweden (96%), the United Kingdom (88%), Belgium (86%) and France (a somewhat stunning 69%).

As for what is driving the move away from cash, it seems to be a number of factors. In Belgium’s case, one factor has been a EUR 3,000 limit on cash payments, as well as the successful introduction of a mobile payment system called “Sixdots” linking a major mobile operator and leading banks. France’s strong showing reflects the fact that, despite the low penetration of debit cards, almost its entire population is “banked.” In the UK, the transition from cash transactions is being led by merchants, as even the smallest retailers adopt cashless payment options, including m-POS terminals.

A similar mix of policy-led and “organic” developments is also driving growth in the remaining countries of Europe, including Germany and the surrounding region, where Cellum is based.

And needless to say, this trend is fueling Europe’s leading roll in the move towards contactless and mobile payments, with by some counts the region currently accounting for just under a quarter of all mobile payments worldwide.

Regardless of their different strategies and tactics, Europeans are currently leading the global “dash from cash,” and while the winners are unlikely to get any medals, their consumers will be richer and happier.