Mercator Blog

The Enduring Use, for Now, of Cash and ATMs
Date: November 29, 2019
Sarah Grotta
Director, Debit and Alternative Products Advisory Service

The United States has seen a slow decline in the total number of cash transactions during the last two years, but the decline has not been dramatic. The resilience of cash is noteworthy in the midst of many payment alternatives that have been introduced with the purpose of replacing the use of cash. Consumers are drawn to cash for low-value transactions. Cash is used 49% of the time for payments valued at less than $10, and it is still used for 35% of transactions of any value conducted in person. Mercator Advisory Group surveyed U.S. consumers about their use of cash and asked if it had increased, decreased, or stayed the same from 2017 to 2018. The results shown in Figure 1 attest to the continued stability of cash.

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Much is written in the payments industry about the persistence of cash in the U.S. in particular and why consumers are not adopting mobile wallets, wearables, and voice assistants like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri and other modern payment form factors. A report from the International Monetary Fund finds the level of cash use in the U.S. to be average compared to the usage levels in other large or developed economies. 

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Mercator Advisory Group releases new research, 2019 ATM Benchmark Market Report, reporting exploring market trends and consumer preferences regarding ATMs in this U.S. benchmark study.