November 15, 2012
Over the past 20 years, there has been a major shift away from the use of paper-based retail payment instruments, such as cash and cheques, toward electronic means of payment, such as debit cards and credit cards. Recent Bank of Canada research on consumers’ choice of payment instruments indicates that cash is frequently used for transactions with low values because of its speed, ease of use and wide acceptance, while debit and credit cards are more commonly used for transactions with higher values because of perceived attributes such as safety and record keeping. While innovations in retail payments currently being introduced into the Canadian marketplace could lead to a further reduction in the use of cash over the longer term, the implications for the use of cash of some of the structural and regulatory developments under way are less clear.
Many predict that innovations in retail payment may render cash obsolete. We investigate this possibility in the context of recent payment innovations such as contactless-credit and stored-value cards.