The COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased the demand for cash. Cash in circulation increased sharply from March through December 2020, particularly in the early months of this period. Although use of electronic methods of payment also increased significantly, cash use for payments remains high for low-value transactions and among certain demographic groups.
Distributional Effects of Payment Card Pricing and Merchant Cost Pass-through in Canada and the United StatesAlthough credit cards are more expensive for merchants to accept than cash or debit cards, merchants typically pass through their costs evenly to all customers. Along with consumer card rewards and banking fees, this creates cross-subsidies between payment methods. Because higher-income individuals tend to use credit cards more than those with lower incomes, our results indicate that these cross-subsidies might lead to regressive distributional effects.