EU countries with the most cashless payment transactions 2018

The statistic shows the member states of the European Union with the highest number cashless payment transactions in 2018. In the United Kingdom (UK), approximately 27.7 billion transactions were reported from the cashless payment segment, making the UK Europe’s leading member state in terms of cashless payment transactions.

The dawn of cashless payments

   The practice of paying without cash has its roots in the United States and was first used in the 1940s as a means of paying for automobile fuel. As the number of motorists in the country that would soon become the world’s dominant economy began to rise, a way was sought to make the process of re-fueling more convenient. This was the dawn of the cashless payment. The process is so popular now, that in 2018 more than 111 billion cashless transactions took place in the EU member states.

Cashless payment transactions

   It took a while before the practice was to be adopted in other parts of the world. Initial adoption rates of one form of cashless payment, the credit card, were high in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom but elsewhere the acceptance levels were relatively slow. It took until the mid 1990s for the credit card payments to be more widely accepted, but despite this, usage rates around the world vary vastly.

Some countries are very cash oriented and despite Germany’s position as the country with the third highest number of cashless payment transactions in Europe, the country is generally considered to be primarily cash-reliant. Cultural aspects might have a role to play into that: debt and financial insecurity is identified as a highly negative value in the culture. The fear of ‘Schuld’, which translates as well into ‘guilt’ and ‘blame’ as it does into ‘debt’, stands as one of the possible reasons to explain as to why it is more common to pay with cash in Germany.

EU member states with the most cashless payment transactions in 2018

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Release date

November 2019



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

Figures were rounded.
* The figures for direct debits are excluded from the total payments figure for Denmark due to confidentiality of the national data.

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Statistics on "Payment methods in Denmark "

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