Dutch central bank concerned about decreasing use of cash

Since May of this year, only 39 percent of transactions in the Netherlands were paid for with cash, compared to around 60 percent in 2014, according to new figures from Dutch central bank DNB and the Dutch Payments Association. DNB is concerned about the rapidly decreasing use of cash money. A cashless society is "vulnerable", DNB cash director Coen Voormeulen said to newspaper AD.

Dutch people should always be able to pay for something with cash, according to Voormeulen. "Many people have trouble with cards: some of the elderly, the visually impaired. There are also 2.5 million low-literate people." Digital payments are also susceptible to hackers and malfunctions, he said to the newspaper. "Cashless makes you vulnerable as a society."

DNB wants banks, the retail sector, the government and interest associations to make agreements to make sure that cash will remain generally accepted. "We hope for the polder way", Voormeulen said. "If that does not work, you can think of rules."

The DNB and Dutch Payments Association figures show that the popularity of electronic payment differs greatly from sector to sector.  For example, about three quarters of street purchases are still made with cash. But digital payments are winning ground everywhere. In the hotel and catering industry, there were more debit card payments than cash for the first time this year. 

There are also major differences per age group. Young people between the ages of 19 and 24 pay for 77 percent of their purchases with debit card, while elderly people over the age of 75 pay for 61 percent of their transactions in cash.