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Canada tops U.S. and Australia with increase in cashless businesses: Report

Jun 10, 2020

Report examines Canadian local businesses and consumers’ changing reliance on cash

Toronto, ON - June 10, 2020: A new report from payments company Square reveals that local businesses in Canada have experienced a cashless growth spurt amid the coronavirus pandemic. Canada leads the U.S. and Australia with nearly half of local business sellers (48 per cent) effectively cashless*. The report, entitled Cashless Payments and the Pandemic — Canada Edition, reveals how the pandemic has changed the ways we buy and sell with cash.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has both slowed down and sped up our world in unique ways,” said Felipe Chacon, economist at Square. “In the two months since social-distancing, Canadians have moved away from cash at warp speed, in part due to safety concerns around handling cash, and in part the increase in online orders. But there are regional differences—some cities and business types have become less reliant on cash than others.”

The city of Ottawa, ON, has seen the most substantial abandonment of cash amid the pandemic, with cash plummeting there from 31.3 per cent of sales to a mere 1.7 per cent. Montreal, QC, was second, with a paltry 2.8 per cent of all purchases being made in cash. Winnipeg, MB, rounded out the top three with only 3.1 per cent of sales paid with bills and coins.

On the other end of the spectrum, British Columbia remains committed to cash: Surrey is the most reliant on cash of any Canadian city, with almost a quarter of all purchases (23.9 per cent) still being made with physical money. Two other BC cities, Vancouver and Victoria, are among the top five most cash-heavy cities in Canada.

From an industry perspective, charitable organizations have shifted most dramatically away from cash, with the percentage of donations made in cash dropping from 39.1 to 12.9 per cent. Conversely, breweries, wineries and distilleries have the smallest number of cash transactions. Beauty and barbershops and coffee shops remain the most cash-heavy of all business types although this may change as these begin to reopen over the coming weeks.

“Businesses are urgently modernizing the way they sell, as seen by the rise in business owners wanting to reach buyers and take card payments, both online and in person,” said Chacon. “But even though the shift away from cash has been very clear, it’s unlikely Canadians will do away with cash permanently. Nonetheless, we’ve shifted to new ways of buying and selling that will have lasting effects for cash in the future.”

The full report can be viewed here.

Cashless is defined here as accepting 95 per cent or more of transactions through credit or debit cards.

About Square
Square, Inc. (NYSE: SQ) revolutionized payments in 2009 with Square Reader, making it possible for anyone to accept card payments using a smartphone or tablet. Today, we build tools to empower businesses and individuals to participate in the economy. Sellers use Square to reach buyers online and in person, and to manage their business. Square has offices in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Ireland and the UK. More information about Square is available at square.ca.

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