Debit cards replace cash as the main way to pay in Switzerland, survey reveals

Debit cards replace cash as the main way to pay in Switzerland, survey reveals

While the famous multi-coloured franc notes are still a common part of living in Switzerland, it seems as though cash is no longer the king it used to be. A new survey conducted by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and the University of St. Gallen has revealed that debit cards have overtaken cash as the most popular payment method in the alpine nation.

Debit cards now the most favoured payment method in Switzerland

In the survey of 1.450 people from across Swiss cities and cantons, the universities found that 29 percent of respondents use debit cards as their primary method of payment, both at physical stores and on the internet. This is a 4 percent increase compared to the same survey taken six months ago. The increase has seen cash fall to second place - the popularity of coins and notes fell by 1,1 percent in the last six months, down to 28 percent overall.

When asked why cards were starting to dominate transactions in Switzerland, University of St. Gallen economist Tobias Trütsch told 20 Minuten that “the new generation of debit cards can be used online and open up new possibilities for use, which increases the attractiveness of the debit card."

Mobile payments see boom in popularity

Another factor, according to ZHAW expert Marcel Stadelmann, is the rise in payments using mobile phones and Twint. Mobile-based payments are the now primary payment method for 21 percent of those surveyed, a 5 percent increase compared to six months ago.

Stadelmann noted that people are becoming increasingly confident with paying by phone, especially in areas where cash used to be dominant like parking and convenience shopping. He added that as Twint becomes more available, from farm shops to supermarkets, some firms are starting to reject cash as payment altogether.

Interestingly, however, Stadelmann noted that while cash is becoming less popular, people are holding onto more coins and notes than in previous years. He concluded that this phenomenon was likely caused by the Ukraine War, as cash is seen as a more secure and guaranteed means of payment should the worst occur - so much so that the Swiss government recommends a stash of cash as part of its emergency preparedness stockpile.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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