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A new report from Economist Impact commissioned by Crypto.com, provides a range of interesting insights into consumer sentiment toward digital currencies and the trend toward a cashless society.

The report compared the attitudes from two surveys, one of 3,000 people from around the world and the other of 150 institutional investors and corporate treasury management respondents.

Key takeaways include the positive sentiment towards CBDC (central bank digital currencies) and the use of DeFi for personal or professional transactions. Although the use of digital payment methods has rocketed in recent years cash remains king as the most trusted method of payment with 85% of respondents considering cash to be trustworthy.

Notably, over 60.1% of consumers surveyed expect to buy, hold or sell NFTs. Non-fungible tokens have become a 

Another trend worth considering is that 85% of purchases in the last year by respondents were made with digital payments instead of physical notes, coins or credit cards.

The survey finds that while the share of respondents who report that they always (as close to 100% of purchases as possible) use digital payments instead of banknotes, coins, or credit cards has remained largely similar over the past two years at 24%, more than three in four consumers expect their countries to become largely cashless within the next five years.

18% of respondents say the country in which they live will become cashless in the next year or two

This is compared with 17% in 2021 and 14% a year earlier. In keeping with this trend, only 13% now say their country will never become cashless compared with 19% in 2021 and 28% in 2020.

The significance of governments’ role in this shift toward a cashless society is made clear by the survey results. For instance, among those who believe their country will become cashless, government and the public sector is seen as the biggest driver of this (49% compared with 27% in 2021).

This echoes findings from the institutional survey that regulations can enable acceptance and adoption. On the flip side, government regulations are also picked as one of three main barriers to becoming cashless by more than one in four (27%) of consumers, up from 20% in 2021.

37% of respondents expect their government to launch a CBDC

The optimism around CBDCs is seen among institutions as well, with 65% saying they expect them to replace physical currencies in their countries, up from 56% in 2021. There is also optimism around growing understanding and trust of digital currencies—for example, only 35% consider that a primary obstacle to greater institutional investor or corporate treasury use of open-source digital currencies, down from 47% a year earlier. However, a larger share (41%) view regulations as a barrier this year than they did last year (32%).

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Charles Ross, principal at Economist Impact and editor of this report, says: “The results of this year’s research show considerable development in the ecosystem for digital assets and currencies globally. Both consumers and institutions are more optimistic about the move to cashless today than they were a year ago and more interested in digital assets. While some barriers remain—and market fluctuations such as those we have witnessed in the crypto markets in recent months can test expectations—the shift away from physical to digital money is well underway.”

Visit Economist Impact for the full report.