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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, 2021-22 and 2023.

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 and 2023 surveys 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. 96% of SMBs in Canada accept cash.
  • The overall acceptance of debit and credit cards remains stable at 89% for both methods of payment. Acceptance of contactless cards remains stable and high.
  • The percentage of digital payment methods accepted by merchants has increased.
    • Acceptance of Interac e-Transfer is 63%.
    • Acceptance of mobile payment apps is 49%.
  • The vast majority of merchants (92%) have no plans to go cashless in the future.

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
2023 4     92 1

Note: For more information on the blank columns in 2023, see the full report.

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