Paying for your bus ticket with a contactless card, putting down plastic in a restaurant or shop – these may be everyday aspects of life in the Anglophone world. But not so in Germany, where remembering to go to the cash point is something many expats have to get used to.
And according to a study released by YouGov on Thursday, this is just how Germans like it. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of respondents said that they would oppose a law allowing shops and businesses to refuse cash payments.
Just this is currently being planned in Denmark, where from next year onward businesses will be allowed to refuse notes and coins.
While 21 percent of Germans would be open to a change in the law, it seems most still see cash as safer and more reliable than card and other modern forms of payment.
The survey shows that three quarters of Germans believe cash is safer than card payments. They also believe that paying in cash helps one keep a better overview over one’s finances.
That means cash is still the most popular payment option in the country.
Research by the German Bundesbank (central bank) shows that four out of every five transactions are still conducted with cash and that over half (53 percent) of the total amount of money exchanged changes hands, quite literally, in cash.
In the United Kingdom, by comparison, the number of cash transactions was outstripped by the number made with cards or other non-cash forms of payment earlier in 2015.
Several leading economist have outed themselves recently as supporters of the retirement of cash altogether.
Economist Peter Bofinger has argued that getting rid of cash would act as a barrier to cash-in-hand work and drug dealing. Money laundering and tax avoidance would also become much harder, he has claimed.
But the benefits that come with tracking down digital money more easily could be a double.edged sword.
Paying by card means that purchasing anything from a beer in the local pub to a loaf bread in the bakery is recorded. While this can be advantageous for tracking down criminals, it also poses an increased threat to consumer privacy.
On this point German public opinion is split. While 23 percent consider it positive that cash cannot be traced so easily, 22 percent see it as a bad thing. Almost half meanwhile are undecided.
But behaviour is slowly changing. According to the EHI Research Institute over the last 20 years retail transactions by card have increased eight-fold.