Cash: Companies’ favorite form of payment


When it comes to the question of whether cash will last or not, most studies focus on the consumer’s point of view. So far, the results have been clear: coins and bills remain important – especially in Germany. Regularly observing the population and their preferences is certainly interesting, but it only shows one side of many. The European Central Bank (ECB) thought the same thing, turned the survey tables and turned its attention to companies.

Cash usage by companies

What is the status of the businesses’ cash acceptance? What cash services, such as cashback services, do they offer? And which future do they see for the payment method? The European Central Bank answers these questions with its first survey on the use of cash by companies in the eurozone.

To do this, they interviewed organizations that have at least one person working in retail, food, accommodation, arts, entertainment, film and other industries – excluding the financial sector. However, the results presented below focus on the four key sectors: retail, restaurants and cafés, hotels and the entertainment and leisure industry. And there is a simple reason for this. These sectors have the most contact points with private customers.

Cash – accepted and favored

Almost all companies (96%) accept cash as well alternative means of payment. Over 85 percent offer credit card payments, 82 percent contactless card payments and 80 percent debit card payments. But what about their own preferences? The ECB asked the participants which payment method they prefer to use.

Over one quarter chose cash, followed by contactless cards (20%) and debit or credit cards (17%). A look at the country-specific responses reveals a considerable difference. The survey revealed stronger preferences for cash payments in Slovakia (45%) and Germany (36%) than in Finland, for example, where only 4% of respondents indicated coins and bills as their preferred means of payment.

Mainly bright cash prospects

Should cash continue to be offered as a payment method in the future? At just under 95 percent, the majority have found a clear answer to this question: Yes! The remaining five percent, who have accepted cashless payments up to now, have doubts about their company’s future viability and no longer want to accept coins and bills. According to the respondents, this planned abolition in some organizations will take place in around three to five years or later.

Cash sceptics gave a wide variety of reasons why they believe cash will no longer be fit for purpose in the future. The expense (32%), infrequent use by customers (31%) and the inconvenience of making deposits and withdrawals (29%) were the three most common arguments. Given the results of the comparison between cash and other means of payment, this is surprising. Cash scored well in all areas, including overall costs and ease of use.

Digital cash operations – not a topic yet

However, the queries regarding the automation of cash operations could provide the answer. Over 60 per cent of companies stated that they do not automate cash processes. Also, 80 per cent have no plans to modernise the various processes. In comparison, only five per cent have plans to introduce intelligent cash registers, which work like normal ones but count cash automatically when it comes in and goes out, and four per cent have plans to switch to other automation systems. This means that they are missing out on considerable benefits and are closing themselves off from the solution to the problems mentioned above.

Digital and automated processes in particular can bring enormous relief in many areas, especially in retail. The time-consuming procurement of coins, for example, is transformed into a simple and fast provision via the ALVARA Coin Marketplace. Manual and therefore error-prone processes can be digitalised with ALVARA Interactive Cash Control (ICC) – for automated control of cash logistics processes. This is why companies should not close their minds to such software solutions in view of the long future they hold in store for cash.


Cash is currently widely used and will remain so. Contrary to numerous speculations, there is no evidence that organisations want to abolish cash across the board. On the contrary: one in four companies favours cash over other means of payment. Only when it comes to digitalisation is there a need to catch up.

Do you accept cash in your company, but not the associated costs? Then we will be happy to find the right solution for you!