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Swiss National Bank Says Merchant Cash Acceptance Unchanged Since 2021

Swiss currency

Swiss National Bank (SNB) Vice Chairman Martin Schlegel said Friday (Feb. 23) that physical cash will never disappear from use in Switzerland, despite the popularity of payment apps.

Speaking at an event, Schlegel emphasized the importance of cash for a large part of the population, citing countries like Sweden where cash usage declined but still remained after reaching a certain level, Reuters reported Friday (Feb. 23).

Schlegel’s comments came on the same day that that the SNB released a survey on payment methods used by companies in Switzerland.

He noted that while the use of cash may decline in Switzerland over the long term, it is difficult to determine the base level, the Reuters report said.

Schlegel warned against a negative spiral where a reduction in banking branches and cash machines leads to less use of cash, per the report. The SNB, Switzerland’s central bank, closely monitors the provision of ATMs and bank branches in the country and is prepared to take action if the downward trend accelerates.

Schlegel refrained from discussing the impact of fewer bank branches after the takeover of Credit Suisse by UBS last year, stating that it was a business decision for UBS, according to the report.

The SNB recently found that monetary policy, including interest rates and foreign exchange interventions, is not currently affected by the decline in cash usage, the report said.

The survey released Friday by the SNB found: “Cash acceptance continues to be high and has changed little since 2021,” the central bank said in a Friday press release. At the same time, companies have adopted additional payment methods, especially mobile payment apps and transfers.

In an earlier survey that focused on consumers, the SNB found that “there is a broad desire among the population for cash to continue to be available as a payment method.”

Elsewhere in Europe, a survey released in January 2023 found that more people reported a decrease in their cash usage than reported an increase.

The European Central Bank (ECB) survey found that 32% of respondents had reduced their cash usage compared to pre-pandemic levels, while 14% said their cash usage had increased. The largest group of respondents — 54% of them — reported no change in their cash usage.