The right to pay in cash? Approaches of European countries mapped

The Czech organisation Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe), an EDRi member, has been working for several years on the issue of digital exclusion, which also concerns payment in cash. They discovered that People in the Czech Republic who prefer to pay in cash have been facing problems using some services. Now, IuRe has analysed the approaches of different countries in Europe towards cash payments in a new study.

By IuRe (guest author) · January 17, 2024

Whether it’s tickets for public transport, parking, or buying refreshments on the train or cinema – if you’re a person in Czech Republic wanting to avail of any of these services and pay with cash, you could be at a significant disadvantage. In some cases, cash payment would not be possible at all, leaving citizens unable to access services. EDRi member IuRe is monitoring such cases and has pushed for a fine for services refusing cash payment in 2021.

However, the Ministry of Finance has not yet addressed the suggestion at all.

New study analysing approaches towards cash payment in Europe

There is a growing call in the Czech Republic for the right to pay in cash to be part of the Czech constitution, along with the right to exist offline, without needing digital services. (along with the offline right). This was proposed by some Czech senators at the end of 2023, and the proposal was commented on by IuRe.

To further strengthen the push for the right to pay cash, IuRe conducted a study that analysed the approaches of different countries in Europe towards cash payments. The study concludes that the obligation to accept cash is regulated in the vast majority of countries surveyed, but that there is a great deal of variability in the form of regulation and in what this obligation entails. For countries where cash protection is already in place, the study finds that a wide range of exceptions to the obligation to accept cash payments can lead to a de facto outcome similar to the absence of an obligation to accept cash payments.

IuRe’s study is a useful contribution and input to the debate now underway in a number of European countries.

The digital divide is constantly renewing itself

The main problem with refusing cash payments is that people who, for various reasons, do not want to pay by card, mobile phone or a smartwatch will fall out of society. Available sociological studies show that there will always be 10-20 per cent of of people who will not go digital – this means that the digital divide is constantly renewing itself.

Read the full analysis

Contribution by: EDRi member, IuRe

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