Three-quarters of euro zone payments made in cash: ECB

FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi delivers a speech at the Economic Forum in Brussels, Belgium, June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Three-quarters of euro zone payments are made in cash, the President of the European Central Bank said on Tuesday, adding cash remained essential for the economy despite the rise of digital payment.

Mario Draghi’s words could assuage some lingering concerns in Germany that the ECB aims to gradually reduce its reliance on cash in favor of other forms of payment.

“Even in this digital age, cash remains essential in our economy,” Draghi said in a statement on the issue of a new 50 euro banknote.

“A soon-to-be-published survey on cash use, carried out on behalf of the ECB, shows that over three-quarters of all payments at points-of-sale in the euro area are made in cash. In terms of transaction values, that’s slightly more than half.”

The ECB’s decision last year to phase out the 500 euro banknote irked some at Germany’s central bank, who feared people’s freedom to store their savings in cash was being curtailed.

The ECB said the move was due to concerns that the high-denomination banknote was used to finance crime and terrorism, although there is no official data about this.

Reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Stephen Powell