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Just 10 percent of Finnish consumers use cash

Finnish residents are using cash less than ever. According to the Bank of Finland only about 10 percent of people in the country use cash when they shop.

Rahapussi ja seteleitä naisen kädessä.
File photo. These days it is mostly senior citizens who still prefer to use cash. Image: Emilia Malin / Yle

The Bank of Finland reports that the use of cash by consumers in the country has been in steady decline since 2000 - at roughly the same pace as the use of electronic payment methods increased during that same period.

Just over a decade ago about one-third of people in the country used cash on a regular basis.

These days it is mostly senior citizens who still prefer to use cash, but the bank said that individuals who keep a close eye on their finances also prefer paying with bank notes and coins.

There are also regional differences in the popularity of cash payments, according to the bank.

"No cash, please"

Some public agencies no longer accept cash. For example recycling centres and some libraries in the capital region only accept card or electronic payments.

Additionally, there is no law which requires shops and services to accept cash payments - unless a customer has no other way of paying than with bank notes.

The head of the Bank of Finland's cash department, Päivi Heikkinen, told Yle that it is important for companies to accept commonly-used payment methods.

"It's about [residents'] well-being and a basic service," she said.

The bank said that there are still many good reasons to continue using hard currency, however.

Heikkinen said that cash can be used to supplement to electronic payment methods, saying it helps to balance things out.

"If conditions for electronic payments were to change and become more difficult for people to use, there's always the possibility to return to cash," she said, pointing out that cash is handy to have when electronic payment systems temporarily fail.

She said if people did not have opportunity to use cash when they need it, daily life would quickly become a chore.

Though chances of a cyber-attack bringing down the country's banking and payment systems are slim, Heikkinen said that outages of financial services can quickly pose a serious problem for a huge amount of people.

"The possibility to use cash is actually something extremely valuable," Heikkinen said.

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