NEW REPORT: Why Cash Remains Red-Hot In Spain

Some habits die hard. And, when it comes to the cold, hard stuff, Spaniards are less than willing to give up on their payment of choice.

One of the biggest contributors to the high cash usage in Spain is the country’s large rural population. Rural Spain, which is heavily reliant on cash to complete small, everyday transactions, accounts for as much as 20.2 percent of the nation’s total population.

Another factor is the country’s thriving underground economy, which emerged from the global financial crisis in 2009. Today, that underground economy accounts for 24.6 percent of the total GDP.

The Spanish government, however, is making efforts to rein in the underground economy by imposing a €2,500 limit on cash-based spending, which seems to be affecting total use of cash to a certain extent.

What’s more, the country is even considering lowering it further.

Cash usage among Spanish citizens also appears to be on the decline, due in part to a reduction in the number of bank branches. A shrinking footprint of physical branches is also leading to a reduction of over-the-counter withdrawals.

Key Findings in the Global Cash Index: Spain Edition

  • Spain boasts an average of 107 ATMs per 100,000 people, one of the highest in Western Europe.
  • The country has an average of 67 bank branches per 100,000. Meanwhile, in Western Europe, the average is 38 bank branches per 100,000. The worldwide average is 28 per 100,000.
  • Spain’s cash share in 2016 accounted for 22.9 percent of the country’s GDP.
  • Spain scores 41 out of 100 on the ATM Availability Index. That’s greater than the Western Europe score of 33 out of 100 and the worldwide average of 28 out of 100.
  • Overall, approximately €253 billion in cash was spent in Spain in 2016.

Cash’s Continuing Grip on the Spanish Payment Crown

Despite government intervention and the advent of new technology, cash clearly still thrives in Spain.

In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Helena Tejero, chief cashier at Banco de España, explained why Spaniards have an affinity for cash. She noted that although certain payment methods, like debit cards, are gaining in popularity, even these options are working to further promote the use of cash by allowing customers to make cashback withdrawals at retail locations.

“These services are in their infancy stage, but we have seen a lot of interest in promoting those types of cashback services,” said Tejero.

Download the report for more insights into how and why cash still thrives in Spain.

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.