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Cash and COVID-19: What happened in 2021

Available as: PDF

We provide an update on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic on the demand for cash and the use of methods of payment based on data from the Bank Note Distribution System and from consumer surveys conducted in April and August 2021.

Our key findings are as follows:

  • Cash in circulation remained high throughout 2021, driven mainly by demand for large-denomination notes.
  • Canadians’ holdings of cash on hand in April (median $70) and August (median $80) were comparable to results seen in 2020. Other cash holdings reported by Canadians remained elevated, with a median value of $260 in August.
  • In August 2021, 62% of Canadians used cash for payments, and indicators of merchant acceptance of cash improved in both the April and August surveys.
  • A large majority of Canadians (around 80%) in 2021 continued reporting that they have no plans to go cashless in the next five years.