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Swiss still love physical cash despite rise of payment apps

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland is still in love with bank notes and coins, a survey by the central bank showed on Friday, despite the growth of mobile payment apps and predictions of a cashless society.

Cash remains the most widely accepted payment method for customer-facing businesses, such as shops and restaurants, ahead of payment via apps like Google Pay.

Around 92% of companies which operate face-to-face businesses in Switzerland accept cash, while just 59% accept payment via apps, the study found.

The findings of the Swiss National Bank’s survey contrast with the experience of countries like Sweden which have become increasingly cashless.

Still, mobile apps are becoming more popular, with their acceptance level up from 40% in 2021, and they are now more accepted than credit and debit cards in Switzerland.

For Swiss companies that deal with clients remotely – such as online, or by email or telephone – bank transfers are the most popular way to accept payment, followed by invoices, then cash, the study found.

The availability and acceptance of physical money has become a political theme in Switzerland, where bank notes have traditionally been popular even for big purchases like cars.

Campaigners have raised concerns about younger and older people being marginalized because they lack access to payment apps or cards, while the number of banks and cash machines is declining.

Two referendums on the topic of acceptance of cash under Switzerland’s tradition of direct democracy are currently in various stages after collecting nearly 200,000 signatures.

(Reporting by John Revill; editing by Christina Fincher)