Dhe popular “Café de Jaren” in Amsterdam: drink coffee or a beer, in summer on the wooden terrace directly on the Amstel. Maybe olives with it or the bitterballen filled with ragout – and rummage through the newspapers, even if the legendary selection of readers has shrunk a bit. At the moment, cafes, bars and restaurants have long been closed again due to Corona. But hopefully they’ll be back at some point and guests will be happy to pay for their drink on the spot.
Just no longer with cash. Even before the new lockdown, anyone who pulls out a note or coin had no chance at “de Jaren”. The operation comes with a card reader, everything else categorically rejects. The same in the hip warehouse restaurant “De Goudfazant”. Two out of three waitresses refuse to accept cash. After all, a third accepts – after consulting a boss, “and only appropriately”, as she says, because there is no change.
It’s a trend in the capital and elsewhere too. In Utrecht, bars like the PK on the historic Oudegracht make it clear: “Sorry, no cash.” Here and there operators justify this with Corona. In the quaint Genever distillery “De Ooievaar” in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, the saleswoman says that they are acting according to the current recommendations of the authorities. When asked whether she will accept cash again afterwards, a hesitant and not really convincing “yes” comes up.
More and more compulsory digital tracks
In many cases, the cash phobia has demonstrably nothing to do with the pandemic: Watching the A-youth boys of the soccer club in IJburg at the point game and then having a coffee? That didn’t work with cash in 2019. Enjoy the night view of Amsterdam with a glass of Malbec in the panorama bar of the former Shell skyscraper? Only with electronic money and again not just since Corona.
Authorities and other public institutions have also insisted on card payments in many places – whether at parking machines, in administration or on public transport. Anyone who is out and about in the Netherlands can hardly do so anonymously, leaving more and more digital traces behind. In the event of abuse, the data allow ever more precise movement profiles – a danger that affects the otherwise civil rights conscious nation surprisingly little.
Dutch people pay very little in cash on their own initiative because they find card payments convenient. A recently published study by the European Central Bank (ECB) supports this statistically. The data comes from before the pandemic. In the euro zone, the Netherlands is therefore the country where cash has been pushed back the furthest. Citizens pay only one in three transactions (34 percent) with bills and coins – much less than Germans with 77 percent. Across Europe, the share of cash payments is 73 percent, highest in Malta (88 percent of transactions) and in the four large southern European countries Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece (each more than 80 percent).
Contactless payment on the rise
It should be noted that the study designs differed: In 17 euro countries, the ECB had the survey carried out by a market research institute, while in the Netherlands and Germany it used surveys by the respective central banks. In addition, the data in Germany is from 2017, in the other countries from 2019. The big picture should not be any different. Measured against the total value of the transactions, the cash share is generally lower because people tend to pay for mini-purchases in corner shops with cash rather than bulk purchases. Again, it is lowest in the Netherlands with 22 percent, compared to 51 percent in Germany.
Over the years, the use of cash has continued to decline, and Corona seems to be accelerating this. In an ECB survey last July, four in ten respondents said they had used less cash since the pandemic began. 90 percent of this group wanted to keep this permanently. The digital revolution has changed payment habits, especially as contactless payment is increasingly replacing the traditional pin card.