Slovenia: Pandemic changes consumers habits, says Bank of Slovenia

Slovenia: Pandemic changes consumers habits, says Bank of Slovenia

Cash remains the most-used payment instrument according to the study on payment attitudes of consumers in the euro area (SPACE) released by the ECB. Last year, euro area consumers used cash for 73% of their point-of-sale and person-to-person retail transactions, while 24% were made by card. A separate survey regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic revealed that the current health crisis has slightly accelerated the trend of decline in the use of cash.

Banka Slovenije finds the trends in Slovenia to be very similar. The use of cash by Slovenian consumers has declined slightly in recent years (by 6 percentage points), while by contrast the use of payment cards has marginally increased (by 5 percentage points).

Comparing the results of the SPACE study with a similar study from 2016 (SUCH), it becomes evident that consumer behaviour in the euro area is slowly changing. Cash is still the predominant payment instrument for everyday payments, accounting for 73% of transactions (79% in 2016). The analysis also shows the share of payments made by card to have risen from 19% to 24% over three years. Contactless payments accounted for 38% of all card transactions in 2019 (compared with just 6% in 2016).

The figures for Slovenia are similar to those for the euro area overall: cash corresponds to 73% of the total number, while card payments to 24%. Slovenia too has seen a fall in the share of cash payments in relation to 2016 (from 79%), and a rise in the share of card payments (from 19%).

Almost half (48%) of consumer transactions in the euro area were conducted in local shops for day-to-day retail purchases (shops, supermarkets, street markets), and 19% in restaurants, bars, cafés and hotels.

A similar trend is revealed by an analysis of the use of payment instruments in terms of total transaction value. In the euro area, cash accounted for 54% of total transaction value in 2016, but only 48% in 2019. There was no significant change in the share accounted for by card payments (which increased from 39% to 41%).

The developments in Slovenia in this comparison were slightly different. Consumers were still using cash for a significantly higher share of total value in 2019 (63%, down from 68% in 2016), while card payments accounted for 31% of total transaction value. These figures rank Slovenia as one of the countries with an above-average level of cash use.

Some 54% of the respondents said it is important or very important that they have cash as a payment option in the future (the figure for Slovenia was 44%). Many also use cash as a store of value for precautionary reasons (e.g. as a safeguard against events such as electronic payment outages or crises), since 34% of the respondents stated that they stored cash at home or in a safe place (the figure for Slovenia is somewhat similar). This last aspect, namely the use of cash as a store of value, has recently gained in importance. The study from 2016 showed that 24% of euro-area and 33% of Slovenian consumers agreed with that statement.

The results of an additional survey (conducted in July this year) confirmed the impact of the pandemic on the use of means of payment in the euro area. Just under 50% of consumers have used cash to approximately the same degree during the pandemic, while 40% of the respondents stated that they have used cash (much) less often since the onset of the pandemic. Of these, 87% predict they will use cash less even after the end of the pandemic.

The main reason cited by respondents for the diminishing use of cash was that electronic payments became more convenient during the pandemic (e.g. the raise of the limit before the contactless card user is required to enter their PIN). This view was expressed by 45% of the respondents. The second-ranked reason referred to concerns over the transmission of the virus via cash (38% of respondents). Just 23% of respondents in Slovenia voiced concerns over transmission via cash. /ibna