Countries around the world have seen further changes in their payment methods. Image: Pixabay

The Top 20 countries most reliant on cash

The prevalence of cash has been steadily declining for years with the advent of digital and electronic payment methods.


Countries around the world have seen further changes in their payment methods. Image: Pixabay

The Covid pandemic also accelerated the process of cashless societies as people sought to avoid cash transactions and prioritise card payments and digital wallets.

Earlier this week a social media storm erupted over reports that Woolworths was going cashless. The retail giant has since confirmed that it will no longer be accepting cash at its W Café outlets, but that its supermarkets will still make cash sales.

ALSO READ: Cashless Society shift: Woolworths’ controversial decision

Given the level of cash usage for grocery purchases, commentators say it is incredibly unlikely that any South African supermarket, least of all Woolworths will say ‘no’ to cash purchases any time soon.

Critics of cashless systems have also cited concerns about excessive dependence on technology and the erosion of traditional monetary methods.

ALSO READ: Woolworths SA responds to ‘going cashless’ reports

So which countries are still heavily dependent on cash? Merchant Machine has updated its list of the most cash-reliant countries (as of 8 December 2023) as countries around the world saw further changes in their payment methods.

The most cash-reliant countries

  1. Morocco
  2. Egypt
  3. Kenya
  4. Nigeria
  5. Philippines
  6. Bulgaria
  7. Peru
  8. Vietnam
  9. Indonesia
  10. Kazakhstan
  11. Mexico
  12. Greece
  13. Colombia
  14. India
  15. Romania
  16. South Africa
  17. Thailand
  18. Russia
  19. Brazil
  20. Czech Republic

The metrics analysed for each country were the percentage of internet users, percentage of people with a credit card, the number of ATMs per 100,000 people, the percentage of cash-based payments made and the percentage of the population without a bank account.

Morocco is leading the way when it comes to cash payments. 74% of all payments in Morocco are cash-based, with 71% of the population not having their own bank account and only 0.2% owning a credit card, indicating that the majority of Moroccan citizens are still relying on physical cash for their transactions.

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Interestingly, 84% of the Moroccan population have access to the internet, so this preference for cash is likely not due to any internet issues.

South Africa was placed 16th on the list.

Paper is still king

ALSO READ: Woolworths saga: These SA stores are already cashless

The shift to cashlessness remains tricky for South African retailers, says Pick n Pay’s Deven Moodley, executive head for its Value-Added Services, Financial Services and Mobile division. 

“A transition to a completely cashless retail environment in South Africa now, however, faces barriers as many economically active customers remain unbanked or lack access to digital payment mechanisms,” he said.