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Cash counters still rolling in dough from Canadian consumers

Cash counters still rolling in dough from Canadian consumers

With the growth of mobile payment use and availability, some believe cash payments will eventually peter out, with buyers opting in favor of plastic or handheld devices to purchase goods and services. But a recent report suggests business owners should be sure to keep their cash counters ready, because currency, including polymer notes, still remains the legal tender top dog in Canada.

In 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available, 51 per cent of transactions were paid for in cash, according to data compiled by the Bank of Canada, representing the clear majority. The second-most common payment means was debit at 31 per cent, followed by credit cards in a distant third at 19 per cent.

"Most consumers carry cash as well as debit cards and credit cards," Canada's central bank detailed in the report. "Their perceptions and the costs of using a specific payment method seem to have only a small influence on which ones they carry."

94 per cent of SMBs accept cash

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the frequency with which Canadians make purchases with dollars, business owners accept cash by an overwhelming margin. Indeed, 94 per cent of small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada take cash, with nearly all large businesses - 98 per cent - accepting this form of currency as well.

Just as consumers use plastic less often to buy things, SMBs don't accept them as often as they do cash, the report found. Approximately two-thirds of SMBs take debit and credit, the Bank of Canada noted, although large companies almost universally accept both payment forms (98 per cent).

In the U.S., meanwhile, cash remains the primary means by which consumers spend their earnings, especially for less expensive purchases. In 2016, more than 85 per cent of Americans used cash at least once, according to Blackhawk Network. Dollar bills were most often utilized for item or services $20 or under. In Canada, however, the typical amount bought using cash in 2015 totaled a median of just over $8, the Financial Post reported from the report.

The data is proof positive money counters will have plenty of work to do for the foreseeable future.