Covid-19 strained Swiss love relations with cash | Instant News

Twint terminal with QR code

Applications such as the Twint Swiss payment solution allow contactless payment for goods electronically.


Money is king in Switzerland, unlike in countries like Sweden and Norway. But more and more people now refuse cash and rely on plastic because of coronavirus. Will this trend continue after the crisis?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the idea of ​​cash is the only form of pure money has been replaced by fears that it helps spread transmission. People try to touch as few things as possible, and that applies to cash as well.

The flu virus lasts on paper money for up to two weeks, according to a study by Geneva University Hospital. At the height of the pandemic in Switzerland, an internet search about health risks from cash has exploded. Payment methods without cash and without contact have become keywords.

Because many stores are forced to close their doors temporarily, more transactions are done online. Some shops have now reopened with signs saying they do not accept cash for now.

“The effect is significantly less cash transactions than usual,” said Andreas Dietrich, head of the Institute for Financial Services Zug (IFZ) at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

According to economist Tobias Trütsch, payment specialist at the University of St. Gallen, preliminary figures indicate changes in payment behavior. “Current data on the use of credit cards reveal that contactless payments, and especially online payments, increase proportionally during locking.”

Fewer withdrawals

Fewer people make cash withdrawals at ATMs. PostFinance notifies Neue Zürcher Zeitung The newspaper said that withdrawals fell by almost 50% between March 16 (when the Swiss lockdown began) and mid-April.

Contactless payments also increase because people prefer to avoid keypads on card readers whenever possible. In early April, card providers doubled the limit for contactless payments from CHF40 ($ 42) to CHF80.

The Swiss Twint payment application, owned by Swiss banks, PostFinance and Swiss exchange operator SIX, has seen a jump in demand.

Since the pandemic in Switzerland, up to 45,000 new users a day have registered for Twint. This is far above the normal number, bringing the number of users to more than 2.5 million. In addition, 11,000 additional vendors have joined the payment system in the past few weeks.

“In the field of e-commerce, we have even seen at least double the transaction, in some areas it has even increased six times,” the company said in a statement. Providers hope this trend will continue “because the topic of cleanliness will remain very important in the future”.

Change Permanent changes ’

Swiss National Bank payment surveyexternal link in 2017 found that around 70% of all purchases were made in cash, 22% with debit cards, 5% with credit cards, while other non-cash payment methods, such as PayPal, weighed 3%.

The more up-to-date Swiss Payment Monitor 2019external link, By St Gallen University and Zurich University of Applied Sciences, found cash was used in 48% of payments. At least one third of payments without cash are also without contacts. But this survey has a different sample group and does not ask those over the age of 65 how they pay.

According to the Swiss Payment Association, the credit card market is almost saturated, but the use of cards for payments continues to increase.

In contrast, cash proportionally fell by 1-2% compared to other payments in the past 20 years, said Andreas Dietrich. And he suspects coronavirus factors to increase this trend.

“I think payment behavior will change permanently,” Tobias Trütsch said. “Most importantly, I see potential in mobile or contactless payments. People are increasingly learning to respect this option because they are practically forced to do it. “

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