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Merchant Acceptance Survey

The Merchant Acceptance Survey (MAS) helps the Bank of Canada understand trends when it comes to the methods of payment accepted by Canadian businesses.

As Canada’s sole issuer of bank notes, it is important for the Bank to understand the rapidly evolving payments landscape. The Merchant Acceptance Survey was conducted in 2015, 2018 and 2021-22.

The MAS focuses on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as they account for a significant share of Canada’s employment, exports and economic growth. The sample consists of merchants with 50 or fewer employees in brick-and-mortar operations in retail, the food industry (restaurants, coffee shops, bars, etc.) and other services for consumers. In addition to a questionnaire, the 2021-22 survey also included discussion groups and interviews with individual merchants.

The payment choices of consumers and merchants are a two-way street. If you are interested to learn about the payment preferences of Canadian consumers, check out the Methods-of-Payment Survey.

Latest results

  • Cash acceptance remains high: 97% of SMBs in Canada accept cash and only 3% have plans to stop accepting cash.
  • Use of cards and digital payments like e-Transfer and mobile payments has increased since 2018; 88% of merchants accept debit cards, up from 67%, and 88% accept credit cards, up from 68%.
  • The number of different payment methods accepted by merchants increased between 2018 and 2021.
  • Acceptance of different payment methods varies across regions of the country: Quebec has the highest proportion of cash-only merchants (15%) and the lowest acceptance of debit and credit cards, while Atlantic Canada has the lowest proportion of cash-only merchants, and the highest acceptance of debit and credit cards.

To learn more about how the acceptance of payment methods varies by merchant size, industry and region, read the full survey report.

Merchant acceptance of common payment methods

Merchant acceptance of common payment methods – by region

Merchant acceptance of common payment methods – by industry

Merchant acceptance of payment innovations

Merchants planning for a future with cash

Year Already cashless % Cashless within 5 years % Cashless in 5+ years % No plans to go cashless % Don’t know %
2018 5 8 2 85  
2021–22 3 3 <1 92 2

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