Cash or cards? The frequently asked question about the choice of payment, according to statistics, may have an unexpected answer. Namely, although it seems that cards are a ubiquitous choice of payment, the old saying still holds true: Cash is king. That is, cash reigns.
According to the Croatian National Bank, in 2018. there were more than 8.5 million payment cards in Croatia. Specifically, 6 million and 704 thousand debit and one million and 853 thousand credit cards. A total of 438.34 million transactions worth slightly more than HRK 150 billion were carried out with them. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It is as if we have stepped into a “cashless society” in which electronic records and codes are used for payments instead of banknotes and coins.
Good old cash
However, such a scenario is far from reality. Namely, according to the data of the Croatian National Bank, as many as 85% of transactions today are performed in cash! In other words, out of approximately seven transactions, six were executed with “good, old cash”.
Do you presume Croatia has the lowest scoring in Europe in this statistic? You think we are far from developed countries who frown at the very mention of rattling coins and prefer “cold plastic” to “rustling papers”, right? Again – the answer is no.
Croatia has an above-average number of POS devices – devices that allow card payments – in relation not only to the average of Central and Eastern Europe but also to the overall European average. In numbers: the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have 17,909 POS devices per million inhabitants. At the European level, this average is 22,948 devices, while in Croatia it is 25% higher and amounts to 28,748 POS devices per million inhabitants.
Well, then: cash or cards?
According to the number of card payment devices, Croatia has the best conditions in Europe to become a “country without cash”. However, this still does not mean much, as the vast majority of selling points, especially those outside urban areas, accept cash as the only payment instrument. And with those who are equipped with POS devices, how often does it happen that your card is the one they do not accept?
So the choice: cash or card, is often not a real choice, primarily due to the inability to pay by card. In this transformation of business, ATMs are the key “intermediate step”. They enable citizens not to have to walk around the city with a bundle of banknotes in their pockets but to get the amount of cash they need quickly, easily and safely before buying. That’s why those 8.5 million cards from the beginning of the story are mostly swiped at ATMs!