13.9 Million Canadians Currently at Risk of Digital Exclusion Due to Drop in Cash Use

  • e-Payments , Security
  • 22.03.2021 10:01 am

At least 13.9 million Canadians could be at risk of being left vulnerable in society due to an inability to use digital payment methods, despite a drop in the use of cash, new data shows.

Analysis has revealed that if this reduced access to cash continues, 13.9 million vulnerable Canadians would suffer due to their dependence on physical payment methods - including 6.7 million people suffering with mental illness that may restrict their day-to-day activities. 

Global Payment Trends collates official data from payment reports and demographic statistics to reveal the potential societal repercussions of digital exclusivity, whereby coins, dollar bills and checks are replaced by eWallets, credit transfers and debit cards. 

Data reveals that cash use fell by 21.9% across North America as a percentage of point-of-sale (POS) transactions on top of the online decline, while mobile wallets gained substantial popularity at the end of 2020 as a preferred contactless payment method.

A noticeable decline in cash use around the world appears to have been accelerated during the pandemic, as the latest data reveals cash usage as payment for online orders has dropped by 75% over the past year and now accounts for less than 1% of transactions. 

This paired with the World Health Organization’s earlier concerns that the virus could be transmitted via banknotes could leave millions of people without vital access to cash.

Vulnerable members of Canadian society


Among those who may struggle to make payments in a cashless society are the 6.7 million Canadians who are living with a mental illness that may impair their ability to manage or monitor their money, as outlined by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. 

It’s never been more important for policymakers to ensure adequate provisions are in place to support vulnerable people - especially given that a recent Statistics Canada survey found that Canadians aged 15-24 had seen a 20% decrease in their mental health quality during the pandemic - despite previously being the least likely to experience mental health issues.

Helen Undy, Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Institute, said: "When you’re struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety – so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives.

“Ensuring that money advice is routinely offered to people using mental health services would increase recovery rates, as well as improving the financial wellbeing of the millions of people currently dealing with this terrifying combination of problems."

To find out more about the impacts of digital exclusion in the Global Payment Trends study, visit: https://a2zcasinos.org/global-payment-trends/ 

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