Global Cash Index: Cash’s Slipping Grip In Greece

Cash is still big in Greece, but could it be headed the way of the ancient drachma (RIP)? According to new research, a massive financial crisis and new regulations have wreaked havoc on the state of cash in Greece, with the country’s cash share falling by more than 25 percent since 2002. Find more insights, along with an interview with Babis Ermidis, head of payments at the National Bank of Greece, inside the hot-off-the-presses Global Cash Index™ Greece Analysis.

Greek cash usage is changing.

While the country’s cash share accounted for more than 83 percent of its GDP less than 15 years ago, it has now dropped to 57.1 percent, according to research contained in the brand new Global Cash Index™ Greece Analysis. Greece’s massive economic crisis, along with new regulations, have led to an increase in the use of debit and credit card payments.

Cash’s decline is not expected to end anytime soon. The country’s government is currently leading various initiatives to digitize the Greek economy, and cash share is expected to dip below 50 percent of Greece’s GDP by the start of the next decade.

Other key takeaways from the new Global Cash Index™ Greece Analysis:

  • Greeks spent a total of €99 billion in cash, compared to €60.96 billion spent through cards, in 2015
  • Greece ranks third among the 14 Eastern European countries analyzed when it comes to cash usage
  • Between 2000 and 2014, the number of ATMs in Greece grew by 101 percent

The Global Cash Index™ Greece Analysis also features an interview with Babis Ermidis, head of payments at the National Bank of Greece. PYMNTS recently caught up with Ermidis to get the scoop on the state of cash in the cities and towns of Greece, how the financial landscape changed since the crisis last summer and how he sees payments evolving in the country.

Here’s a preview: 

With the government leading initiatives to digitize the country’s economy, cash is not the king in Greece anymore, Ermidis said. Consumers must make most of their payments through plastic money, electronic transfers or direct debit because they don’t have enough cash on them to pay for all their expenses, he added.

Nevertheless, plastic cards are still far from representing a significant share in payment methods. In 2015, Greeks used a total of €99 billion in cash, compared to €60.96 billion spent through cards, according to PYMNTS’ analysis of the state of cash in Greece.

However, with the slow and steady rise of debit cards, use of cash is projected to continue declining. By 2020, it is estimated that cash share will represent 47.9 percent of Greece’s GDP.

“Cash will be used less and less,” Ermidis said. “I think that now it’s going to the skin of the Greeks to use electronic means.”

To download the analysis, fill out the form below…


About The Index

The Global Cash Index™, a Cardtronics collaboration, focuses on the use of cash for making payments and as a payment method that equally plays a role with cards, checks, direct debit and other methods of settling up between consumers and businesses. Unlike most reported estimates of cash, our proprietary data analysis focuses on the use of cash for making payments rather than hoarding.



The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.

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