We provide an analysis of cash trends in Canada before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also consider the potential two scenarios for issuance of a central bank digital currency in Canada: the emergence of a cashless society or the widespread use of an alternative digital currency in Canada. Finally, we discuss the Canadian experience in maintaining cash as an efficient and accessible method of payment and store of value.
Using data from the Bank Note Distribution System and consumer surveys, we find that bank notes in circulation remained high through 2021. Canadians continued to rely on electronic methods of payment, but a significant share also continued using cash for payments.