Cash use in Finland on wane: OP

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The Covid pandemic accelerated the move away from cash, and the trend shows no signs of turning, according to Financial Group OP.

Cash withdrawals have declined nationwide, but there are regional differences, said OP in a press release on Friday.

Euro amounts of cash withdrawals made by OP's personal customers declined by 36 per cent between the summers of 2019 and 2023.

Withdrawals at bank branches have clearly declined most, by 56 per cent. Cash withdrawals at ATMs, the most common way of making a withdrawal, have declined by 31 per cent. At store checkouts, they have declined by 20 per cent.

"On the whole, people are using less cash. However, for some, cash remains the customary payment method and a means of managing their household budget. Some have withdrawn cash to keep at home in case of emergencies, such as power cuts. Also, summer and Christmas stand out as seasons during which more withdrawals are made," said Katariina Säntti, Head of Payment Services of OP.

The decline of cash is explained by fewer and fewer people withdrawing cash and doing so with less frequency.

The number of people withdrawing cash in Finland at least once a year has fallen by about 10 per cent, and the number making a cash withdrawal once a month by 40 per cent.

Among large population centres, use of cash by OP's personal customers is declining at the national average rate, or even a little faster, in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and Tampere.

Of the west coast cities, in Turku, Vaasa, Pori and Oulu the decline in cash use is slower than the national average.

The banks showing the relatively smallest decline in cash withdrawals at branches are located in Southwestern and Western Finland.

Customers' cash withdrawals at ATMs are falling fastest in large growth centres. As an exception, cash withdrawals in the cities of Vaasa and Pori and Northern Finland are falling a little slower than in the rest of the country.

"The role of a bank branch as a place for making cash withdrawals or deposits continues to diminish. Customers have moved to withdrawing cash from ATMs and paying for purchases with payment cards. Mobile payment methods have also reduced the need for cash in various day-to-day situations. This long-term trend has been accelerated by the Covid years," said Säntti.

This year, the average one-time cash withdrawal from an ATM by a Finnish person has been 125 euros. This amount has risen from the pre-Covid era, by about 9 per cent from 2019.

In addition to ATM withdrawals, ATM deposits are closely related to use of cash. ATM deposits have seen a strong increase in the last ten years alongside growth in the ATM network. However, except for the Covid years, this growth is now levelling off. OP customers' ATM deposits in euros are growing by 5–10 per cent a year. This year, ATM deposits in euros have grown by 9 per cent compared to 2022.

In 2022, the European Central Bank investigated the payment attitudes of consumers in the euro area in its bi-annual SPACE study. Cash payments' share of all payments made at points of sale in Finland was the lowest in the euro area, both in terms of the number of payment transactions and amount in euros, whereas the share of card payments was the highest in the euro area.

  •  Cash
  •  Use
  •  Decreased
  •  Finland


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