Cash or Card

Cash or Card is the question all South Africans grapple with when it comes to daily purchases.Images-CANVA.

Will it be cash or card this festive season?

The festive season is here so time to get all your shopping done. But what will it be between cash or card? Here is a breakdown on each.

Cash or Card

Cash or Card is the question all South Africans grapple with when it comes to daily purchases.Images-CANVA.

In today’s fast-paced world, the choice between using cash or a card for your purchases is a decision many people face daily.

Cash remains the payment option of choice for most South African consumers—with peak trading periods like the festive season seeing a sharp increase in the cash transactions that retailers need to handle.

It’s important that retailers support customer choice by enabling shoppers to pay by card, with smart devices, or notes and coins.

ALSO READ:Cash transactions to surge in SA retail over the festive season

That’s according to Mark Templemore-Walters, Operations Director at Capital Connect, who said that as many as 90% of transactions in South Africa are still settled with cash.

Many small and big businesses changed the way they handle money after the pandemic. The OK Urban concept store, for instance, completely stopped using cash.

Starbucks is another business that has made a complete switch to cashless payments in their stores.

ALSO READ:CASH-FREE:Is cold cash making its way out?

With stores moving away from cash, it’s essential to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option to decide what is right for you.


Cash, which is the usual way people pay, gives a feeling of real money that makes many feel comfortable. You can spend only what you have in your wallet, and it is accepted everywhere.

In contrast, using a card, whether it is a debit or credit card, brings convenience and safety. You do not need to carry lots of cash with you, and if your card gets lost or stolen, you can report it and get a new one.

ALSO READ:China’s experience: the pros and cons of a cashless society

The ongoing debate over which is superior frequently revolves around security concerns. Cash transactions are discreet and less vulnerable to data breaches.

However, if you lose cash, it is gone for good. Cards do offer some protection, but they can be susceptible to fraud.


Data from PwC Strategy&’s Payments and Open Banking Survey 2022 reveals that cash is the dominant payment type in Africa, closely followed by debit cards.

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In South Africa, youth aged 18 to 25 are the heaviest cash users, with 50% citing the absence of alternative payment options or merchant requests as reasons for using cash.

Despite this, by 2030, South Africa aims to transition to a cashless society, a vision driven by recent strategies from the Payments Association of South Africa (PASA).

In this cashless setup, transactions occur using cards or digital transfers, replacing physical currency. This change aligns with monetary policy. Shifting from cash to digital is more economical, offering savings that can benefit individuals and businesses.

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Physical cash comes with expenses and hampers economic growth compared to efficient non-cash methods.

While the advantages of going cashless are highlighted, non-cash options struggle to gain traction in South Africa.