Cash payments fall by 38% in Spain and Italy since lockdown

·       Digital payments double since March 2020

·       Smartphone payments up 300%.

·       More than half of all payments are now digital.


New research from Outman Consulting reveals dramatic changes in Southern European spending habits. Previously strongly attached to cash, Southern Europeans are embracing digital payment options, leading to a revolution in retail.

In January 2021 Outman Consulting surveyed 2,000 Spanish and Italian consumers to determine how they paid for goods and services, and how those preferences have changed since March 2020.

According to Outman Consulting’s new report, “Southern European Digital Payments Snapshot – March 2021,” there has been an unprecedented shift away from cash, and towards digital. 52% of respondents reported a preference for digitally paying for purchases of €10 or less, up from just 22% before the pandemic.

While credit and debit cards account for the largest number of total transactions, 15% of Spanish consumers use digital wallets, while the use of Smart Watches is growing fast in Italy.

Mario Lombardo, Director of Research at Outman Consulting, said, “Spain and Italy have always loved using cash. They are more traditional markets and have tended to be less keen on digital solutions than their northern neighbors. Digital options are less available, and customers have been wary of using them. The Covid-19 pandemic has completely changed this. In the last twelve months, there has been a revolution in the way that Southern Europeans think about digital. Millions of people have used these new payment methods for the first time, and the vast majority have found them to be simple, safe and convenient.”

This new consumer acceptance has coincided with a push by governments to encourage digital over cash. There has been a step-change in spending habits. Even when life settles into a new normal, it seems certain that digital will hold a greatly enhanced position in Southern European life.

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