‘Cash is king’ in Romania where more than 70% of transactions are made with cash, study finds

Despite advancements in digital payment and the availability of mobile wallets in many countries, cash remains the preferred form of payment in Romania, where almost four out of five transactions are made with cash, a report has claimed.

The pandemic has accelerated the journey to a cashless society, although not everyone is ready to completely let go of cash transactions including Romania and neighboring Bulgaria, the study showed.

Romania tops a list of top 10 cash-dependent countries across the globe, according to research from Merchant Machine, a U.K.-based organization that performed an in-depth study of each country’s payment methods through 2019 and early 2020, monitoring cash use and ATM placements.

In Romania, 78% of transactions were made with cash in that period, followed by Bulgaria where the percentage was 63%. Both countries are EU members.

As the top cash-reliant country, the survey found some 42% of Romanian citizens don’t have a bank account. There are almost 65 ATMs per 100,000 adults, meaning widespread access to cash.

Egypt, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine round out the top five countries, all hovering between 55% and 60% of transactions being cash.

As part of its research on the future of cash, the Merchant Machine report also predicts that cash usage in the U.K., based on its current decline, is likely to bottom out as soon as 2026.

But it won’t happen as quickly in other countries in which the percentage of cash transactions is much higher than other payment forms

In Ukraine, 96 ATMs are available per 100,000 adults, while Bulgaria has 94 ATMs per 100,000 adults. Only Peru had a higher ATM-per-adult rate, with 127 ATMs per 100,000 adults.

At the other end of the scale, only 3% of transactions made in cash in Norway and there are only 31 ATMs per 100,000 adults. All the population has a bank account, according to Merchant Machine.

“The decline of cash usage around the world represents the increase in payment technologies and the changing attitudes for both consumers and businesses,” Ian Wright, founder of Merchant Machine, said in a Wednesday press release. „However, this study shows that not all countries are ready to make the full move towards a cashless society.”

Other countries in the top 10 relying on cash include Morocco, the Philippines, Peru, Hungary and Vietnam.

 Morocco has the highest percentage of citizens without a bank account, 25.8 million or 71%.

Merchant Machine also ranked the most popular digital wallets in its research, citing the uptick in use from the COVID-19 pandemic. 


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