Study finds UK to have the fourth most cashless economy in Europe

As the focus on adapting global economies to become more cashless increased as the pandemic worsened, credit card experts at have revealed that the UK is the fourth most cashless country in Europe. 

The report analysed the following five factors to reveal which countries use the most cashless and contact-free payment methods:

  • % of population (aged 15+) with a credit card
  • % of population (aged 15+) with a debit card
  • Number of ATMs per 100,000 adults
  • Contactless payment limit
  • Number of major e-wallet operators available

According to the report, Norway is the most cashless economy in Europe, followed by Switzerland, Finland and then the UK. 

The 10 Most Cashless Countries in Europe

CountryCashless Score /100
1. Norway72.2
2. Switzerland70.9
3. Finland70.0
4. United Kingdom68.1
5. Sweden64.9
6. Denmark64.6
7. The Netherlands64.1
8. Spain64.0
9. Belgium62.5
10. Republic of Ireland61.7

The latest World Bank data shows 98% of Norwegians (aged 15+) own a debit card. Norway also has one of the lowest numbers of ATMs per 100,000 adults in Europe at 31.58.

Nordic nations account for four of the 10 most cashless countries in Europe, with Finland ranking third behind Switzerland.

The UK is Europe’s 4th most cashless economy. The latest World Bank data shows 91% of Brits (aged 15+) own a debit card and 65% (aged 15+) own a credit card. 

The 10 Most Cashless Countries in the World

Country  Cashless Score /100
1. Canada79.1
2. Hong Kong76.8
3. Singapore76.2
4. New Zealand75.0
5. Japan74.1
6. Australia72.3
7. Norway72.2
8. United Arab Emirates72.1
9. Switzerland70.9
10. Finland70.0

Canada is the world’s most cashless economy. Leading the way with cashless payments, the latest World Bank data shows 83% of the population (aged 15+) own a credit card – the highest usage in the world.

Hong Kong takes second place, with the latest figures showing that 4 in 5 (83%) of Hong Kong’s citizens (aged 15+) own a debit card and 4 major e-wallets are in operation – Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Alipay.

Commenting on the results of the Cashless Countries report, James Andrews, senior personal finance expert at, explains how the pandemic may have changed the way we use money forever:

“Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, we were beginning to see a global shift away from paper money towards electronic payments. However, the Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated this.

“In the past 12 months, we’ve witnessed more than 40 countries increase the limits for contactless payments and in the UK the Government has placed emphasis on using contactless methods of payment where possible.

“The move away from banknotes and coins towards plastic payments and e-wallets presents many advantages. Cashless payments will allow for quick and easy transactions when international travel fully resumes, and the creation of digital paper trails could help reduce tax fraud and money laundering.

“From the retailers’ side, it means less time spent sorting out a float at the start of the day, quicker transactions and fewer trips to deposit takings in the bank – as well as less risk from theft.

“However, as with many technological advancements there is some concern that the change could leave vulnerable individuals behind. As things stand, shops are also well within their rights to refuse cash payments in the UK if they choose to go fully cashless – potentially excluding people unwilling or unable to pay with a card or smart device.

“That means any move towards a fully cashless economy will need to be met with infrastructural changes, as well as potentially legislative ones, to ensure every individual within a society has what they need in order to pay for essential goods and services.”