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The availability of contactless cards, schemes like PayPal and mobile payment services for Apple and Android devices – added to a plethora of credit and debit cards – means global consumers have more ways to complete transactions than ever before. Despite this unprecedented level of choice, old-fashioned cash is still at the heart of how people manage their money and make regular purchases.

According to the latest Global Cash Index, cash is the most widely accepted method of payment in the biggest Western European economies, where €2.1 trillion of cash transactions were completed last year. Data from payment processor TSYS has shown that, in the US last year, debit and credit cards were the most popular options for everyday purchases and online shopping, but cash was top for low-value transactions.

Here are five of the main reasons why consumers continue to value cash and are likely to carry on using it for many years to come.


Sometimes, it’s just easier to have cash in your pocket. Paying at a parking meter, leaving a tip in a restaurant or catching an emergency cab are just a few situations where cash offers maximum convenience.

Card acceptance is increasing all the time and mobile payments are set to become more and more common, but for those who have little interest in adopting the latest technologies or being part of the trend, there is much to be said for the universal usability of cash.

Peace of mind

Confidence in financial services was damaged by the economic crisis, with some consumers losing faith in banks and questioning whether putting money into investments and savings accounts was the best option.

New regulations and legislation passed in the wake of the crisis mean banks are more accountable than ever before, with various measures in place to ensure that the money in customer accounts is protected. Research from the University of Michigan has shown that confidence in financial institutions has been steadily increasing since 2011. Despite these positive steps, the peace of mind that comes with having funds in cash will always appeal to some, despite potential risks such as loss and theft.

Card acceptance isn’t universal

It’s getting increasingly rare, but it’s still possible to come across retailers or sales outlets that don’t accept card payments, or charge you for the luxury. This is more likely if you spend a lot of time shopping at outdoor markets or small, independent stores.

Shoppers might also want to bear in mind that it costs businesses money to take credit card payments, which could be a significant factor for people who feel loyal to small enterprises and want to support their local economy.


Completing card payments – particularly contactless transactions – is getting quicker and easier all the time, but this means the temptation to make a swift impulse buy is there pretty much every time you enter a store.

Physically handing over cash makes you feel much more engaged with your spending, which makes budgeting easier. You can also ensure you only spend what you can afford by carrying a certain amount with you and leaving your card at home.

Security concerns

The younger generation adopt the latest innovations and tech-enabled services without a second thought, but older consumers might be a bit more skeptical about entrusting their financial details to digital processes and systems they don’t understand.

Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of US consumers who have not adopted mobile banking and two-thirds (67 per cent) of those who don’t use mobile payments are put off by concerns about the security of the technology, according to Federal Reserve data.


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Compelling voices and contributed content from around the web

Andy Brown

Andy is marketing director for payments at NCR. He has nearly 30 years' experience in e-payment systems from the delivery and support of systems in the Far East and Europe, from both the product management and marketing perspectives. Based in the UK, Andy is responsible for marketing NCR payment solutions.

Dena Hamilton

Dena is NCR's Director of Enterprise Fraud & Security Software Solutions. She specializes in fraud, risk, compliance and security, with over 35 years of experience in the financial services space. Her focus is the development and deployment of enterprise financial crime solutions optimized in prevention, detection and back office efficiency.

James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Neill Harris

Neill Harris is product marketing director for ATM solutions at NCR. He travels extensively to many of the world's leading banks and financial institutions, articulating how self-service technology and innovation can inform and support strategies and solve challenges.

Zachary Ehrlich

25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, I am unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.

Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.

Brad Strothkamp

Cleopatra Mavredis

Cleopatra is NCR’s Global Marketing Manager for Channel Solutions and has more than 20 years of experience in the ATM industry. NCR’s channel solution portfolio is comprised of APTRA Vision, Inetco Insight and OptiSuite solutions.

Edward Wade

Edward is a freelance writer from Sheffield. Now living in London, he focuses on business and finance.