Consumer Debit Card Transactions Exceed Cash

– Cash's share of personal expenditure transactions dips below 30% –

The number of consumer debit card payment transactions in Canada exceeded the number of cash payment transactions for the first time in 2016, according to TSI's 2017 Canadian Payments Forecast report. The number of consumer debit card payment transactions conducted in 2016 was 5.43 billion, compared with 5.37 billion cash payment transactions. Debit and credit card payments accounted for almost 62% of personal consumption expenditure in 2016

The use of cash as a consumer payment mechanism has declined slowly, but steadily, over the past decade. While it is unlikely that the usage of cash to disappear any time soon, it is accounting for less and less of personal consumption expenditure every year.

Cash’s steady decline illustrates the progressive substitution of cash by electronic forms of payment. The number of credit card payment transactions is expected to exceed the number of cash payment transactions in 2017, and debit card payments by the end of 2018.


The high growth in usage of contactless payments has, in part, displaced the use of cash because of the ease of executing a payment transaction. This is especially important in the low transaction value regime, which is the domain still dominated by cash. The value of contactless payments grew by more than 67% in 2016, and accounted for more than 11% of the combined value of debit, credit and cash consumer payments

Although cash as a payment instrument has lost substantial ground to electronic forms of payment, it still commands a substantial number of payment transactions – almost 30% of all consumer payment transactions in 2016. While it has demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of severe threats from established electronic payment instruments, the promise of mobile payments is set to continue the onslaught.

Although mobile has become a significant channel in the area of transfers and bill payments, and is expected to command the highest share of bill payments and transfers by 2019, mobile in-store payments are not yet ready for prime time. They are growing rapidly but have yet to make an impact on the consumer payments market in Canada. 

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