People are used to paying with bankcards, but still would not like to see a cashless society

  • The incomes and pensions of 90% of people in Estonia are paid by bank transfer, and only 4% in cash
  • Some 80% of people use both bankcards and cash to pay for their daily purchases, and the rest use only one exclusively
  • Cash is mainly used when it is not possible to pay by card, and frequently also for small payments or out of habit
  • Despite the popularity of card payments and online banking, 79% of residents of Estonia oppose the idea of a cashless society
  • Convenience is the top priority for people making payments, but they expect higher speed

The survey of the payment behaviour of Estonian households confirmed there have been no major changes in the past five years in the payment habits of Estonian residents or the way they generally use bankcards or cash. The wages and pensions of 90% of people are paid by bank transfer, and 4% of people in Estonia get their incomes only in cash and the same number in both cash and bank transfer, while 3% of respondents have no regular income either as wages or a pension. People do have other forms of income, such as income from selling things or from rent, which is more often in cash than regular income is. In 2000, 30% of Estonian residents received their wage or pension income only in cash.

Cash is used exclusively for everyday purchases by 11% of the population, while another 12% use only bank cards for purchases. These shares have been relatively stable throughout the past five years, The rest of the population use both cards and cash, with 58% of them paying more frequently by card and 18% more often in cash. In 2000, 68% of the population used only cash for everyday purchases. Statistics from Eesti Pank show that residents of Estonia make some 760,000 card payments each day, which is around 20 times as many as in 2000.

Internet banks are the most usual way for 71% of respondents to make payments. Around one fifth also pay bills in bank offices. Offices of service providers are used for paying only 7% of bills and post offices for 4%.

Despite the popularity of card payments and online banking, the residents of Estonia do not favour the idea of a cashless society, as 79% oppose it. There is more opposition to a cash free society in small towns, where 84% of people oppose it, in South Estonia where 86% do, and among pensioners living alone, of whom 87% oppose it. Those in favour are mostly found among those with higher incomes of over 1000 euros a month or among the young aged 18-34. Rounding prices off at the till and reducing the circulation of one and two cent coins found support from 57% of people.

Convenience is the top priority for people making payments, followed by price and speed. The speed of payments is important for people, and one third think that interbank transfers should be made within five minutes. One third of respondents thought that payments should be completed within not more than a couple of hours.

A large majority of some 93% of people withdraw cash from ATMs. Cash is withdrawn from bank offices by 6% of respondents and from shop tills by 3%. Bank offices are used more often by residents of small towns, 12% of whom withdraw money from there, while shop tills are most popular among people living in country villages, 7% of whom use them. Incomes are paid in cash to 7% of people, who are more likely than the average to come from families which earn 200-400 euros per family member per month.

The most common reason for using cash is when card payment is not available, given by 59% of respondents. Cash is preferred by 39% of respondents for making small payments and by 32% for paying private individuals, while 29% use cash simply out of habit. Payments between private individuals are most common in country villages and small towns, where anonymity in payment is also considered important.

Just over one third, or 34%, of residents of Estonia hold their savings in cash. Savings are held in cash by 14% of people to have a better picture of their savings, by 8% because interest rates on bank deposits are low, and by 6% because bank service fees are too high. There has been a rise since 2015 in the number of families who have money spare after paying for essentials and loan repayments, as 67% of families had money spare in September and 58% in 2015.

The survey was conducted in September this year and covered 964 households, with respondents aged between 18 and 74. The survey was commissioned by Eesti Pank.

The survey observes changes in how Estonian residents use money and in the options and desires behind their financial behaviour. This time the survey focused on the payment habits of Estonian families. Eesti Pank has been running the survey since 1998, and this year it was carried out by Turu-uuringute AS.

Additional information:
Ingrid Mitt
Public Relations Office
Tel: 668 0965, 512 6843
Email: ingrid.mitt [at] eestipank.ee
Press enquiries: press [at] eestipank.ee