Germans want to keep their hands on cash

Confirming conservative stereotypes, Germans have come out strongly in favour of sticking to hard cash in conducting transactions, a survey published on Thursday showed.

Germans want to keep their hands on cash
Germans still trust cash over other forms of payment. Photo: DPA

Paying for your bus ticket with a contactless card, putting down plastic in a restaurant or shop – these may be everyday aspects of life in the Anglophone world. But not so in Germany, where remembering to go to the cash point is something many expats have to get used to.

And according to a study released by YouGov on Thursday, this is just how Germans like it. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of respondents said that they would oppose a law allowing shops and businesses to refuse cash payments.

Just this is currently being planned in Denmark, where from next year onward businesses will be allowed to refuse notes and coins.

While 21 percent of Germans would be open to a change in the law, it seems most still see cash as safer and more reliable than card and other modern forms of payment.

The survey shows that three quarters of Germans believe cash is safer than card payments. They also believe that paying in cash helps one keep a better overview over one’s finances.

That means cash is still the most popular payment option in the country.

Research by the German Bundesbank (central bank) shows that four out of every five transactions are still conducted with cash and that over half (53 percent) of the total amount of money exchanged changes hands, quite literally, in cash.

In the United Kingdom, by comparison, the number of cash transactions was outstripped by the number made with cards or other non-cash forms of payment earlier in 2015.

Several leading economist have outed themselves recently as supporters of the retirement of cash altogether.

Economist Peter Bofinger has argued that getting rid of cash would act as a barrier to cash-in-hand work and drug dealing. Money laundering and tax avoidance would also become much harder, he has claimed.

But the benefits that come with tracking down digital money more easily could be a double.edged sword.

Paying by card means that purchasing anything from a beer in the local pub to a loaf bread in the bakery is recorded. While this can be advantageous for tracking down criminals, it also poses an increased threat to consumer privacy.

On this point German public opinion is split. While 23 percent consider it positive that cash cannot be traced so easily, 22 percent see it as a bad thing. Almost half meanwhile are undecided.

But behaviour is slowly changing. According to the EHI Research Institute over the last 20 years retail transactions by card have increased eight-fold.

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Danish agency criticised for failure to collect child support debts from abroad

Denmark’s parliamentary ombudsman has criticised the Danish Debt Collection Agency (Gældsstyrelsen) for failing to prioritise debts related to child support payments from persons who reside abroad.

Danish agency criticised for failure to collect child support debts from abroad

The child support payment, børne- og underholdsbidrag or more commonly børnebidrag in Danish, must generally be paid by one parent of a child to the other of the other if they do not live together.

But the Debt Collection Agency has done too little to collect payments of the contribution from abroad, the Ombudsman said in a press statement on Tuesday.

“Collection of child support contributions are of major importance for the financial circumstances in many homes,” ombudsman Niels Fenger said in the statement.

“It is therefore criticisable that the agency has, for almost five years, generally not promoted the collection of these contributions,” the watchdog added.

According to the Danish Debt Collection Agency, some 12,500 persons outside of Denmark have outstanding debts related to the child payments, totalling 2.3 billion kroner.

Collection of the money has been complicated by a lack of procedures in the area, the agency said.

Instead of sending requests to authorities in the relevant countries for collection of the debt, the Danish Debt Collection Agency has prioritised assisting foreign authorities in collecting debts outstanding in Denmark, it told the Ombudsman.

It also said that it would now prioritise collecting the Danish debts, and would produce a plan for the work.

This plan will be shared with the Ombudsman when it is completed later this year.

A large amount of debt is tied up in an old system, DMI, which does not allow wage deductions as a method of collection. A new system, PRSM, does enable this.

The agency is therefore working to transfer many of the debts from the old system to the new one, it reported to the Ombudsman.

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