Digital payments make gains but cash remains

CPMI Briefs  |  No 1  | 
31 January 2023


  • The strong growth in digital payments over the past decade continued in 2021. The volume and value of fast payments reached record levels.
  • Even so, digital payments have not yet fully replaced cash. Public demand for cash remains steady, both as a means of payment and as a safe haven.
  • While the digitalisation of payments is a global trend, payment habits still differ across countries. Interoperability of payment systems within and between countries is key to ensuring that payments can be made seamlessly, regardless of the chosen payment method.

Digitisation is changing the way people pay. Over the last decade, technological innovations have enabled new access modes, such as online banking and mobile apps. This has helped consumers and businesses to migrate away from cash and cheques towards electronic payments, including card payments, electronic fund transfers and e-money payments. In addition, an increased demand for convenience and speed has resulted in a growing use of contactless and fast payments.

Some of these trends accelerated with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The 2020 Red Book statistics (as well as other studies) were already pointing to a significant uptake in digital credit transfers and contactless card payments. At the same time, the pandemic led to a surge in cash holdings.

This CPMI Brief documents the extent to which these trends continued using the 2021 Red Book statistics collected in the second half of 2022 for the 27 member jurisdictions of the Bank for International Settlements' Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI). 

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