Debit Trumps Cash in Canada

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

(Oakville, Ontario – October 31, 2017) — 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 a new study published by Technology Strategies International Inc. The report titled, Canadian Payments Forecast – 2017, estimates that the number of consumer debit card payment transactions conducted in 2016 was 5.43 billion, compared with 5.37 billion cash payment transactions.

“The use of cash as a consumer payment mechanism has declined slowly, but steadily, over the past decade,” says Christie Christelis, President of Technology Strategies International. “While we don’t expect the usage of cash to disappear any time soon, it is accounting for less and less of personal consumer expenditure every year.”

Cash’s steady decline illustrates the progressive substitution of cash by electronic forms of payment, says the report. The number of credit card payment transactions is expected to exceed the number of cash payment transactions by 2019.

“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,” Christelis says. “This is especially important in the low transaction value regime, which is the domain still dominated by cash.

The report notes that 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.

Christelis says that mobile payments are not yet ready for prime time, and although growing fairly rapidly, they have yet to make an impact on the consumer payments market in Canada. 

Additional highlights from the study are:

  • Debit and credit card payments accounted for almost 62% of personal consumption expenditure in 2016
  • 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
  • The use of prepaid cards has faltered in Canada, showing lacklustre growth over the past two years
  • 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 2021

The 260-page report provides a comprehensive review, analysis and forecast of consumer payments in Canada. It draws on established statistical sources as well the Canadian Consumer Payments Survey, 2017, conducted by TSI amongst more than 2,000 consumers. The report identifies high growth segments in the Canadian payments market in the context of some important recent developments in the economy, regulatory environment and the industry. Detailed forecasts are presented for credit card payments, debit card payments, cash payments, cheque payments, contactless payments, prepaid cards, gift cards, P2P payments, remittances, online payments, mobile payments, bill payments and transfers, ABM installations and POS terminals. 

About Technology Strategies International Inc.

Technology Strategies International Inc. is a leading Canadian technology market research firm based in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Established in 1997, the company has been tracking developments in Canadian payment industry for the past twenty years.  The Canadian Payments Insights series of reports can be found at For more information on TSI, please see  

Media Contact Information:

For interviews please contact:
Christie Christelis,
Technology Strategies International Inc.

Tel: +1 416 628 0796


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