Kim P. Huynh research is a Senior Research Advisor in the Currency Department at the Bank of Canada. His research interests include industrial economics and applied econometrics. Kim P. Huynh received his PhD in economics from Queen’s University.
Merchants universally accept cash. Consumers widely hold cash but also carry debit and credit cards. The cost of using a method of payment has only a small influence on which method consumers use. Large merchants accept all payments, while only two-thirds of small and medium-sized businesses accept credit cards. Merchants report that credit cards are the costliest payment method compared with cash and debit cards. However, costs are not the only consideration. Merchant acceptance of credit accounts for the many con-sumers that want to use credit cards. This interaction between consumers and merchants is known as network externalities.
The Bank of Canada’s 2013 Methods-of-Payment Survey indicates that the share of cash in the overall number of retail transactions has continued to decrease, mainly because of increased use of contactless credit cards. The share of cash in the total value of retail transactions was virtually unchanged from 2009 to 2013. In particular, the value share of cash transactions above $50 increased. Automated banking machines (ABMs), still the major source of cash for Canadians, were used less often in 2013 than in 2009. Cash use in Canada is broadly similar to that in Australia and the United States.