News & Resources

Will Canada Be the First Country to Go Cashless? U.K. Survey Suggests It’s Likely

May 27, 2021
3 mins
A customer uses their smartphone to pay with their mobile wallet

Coins and banknotes may soon be a thing of the past as more Canadians choose to go cashless in favour of contactless payment options like credit cards and mobile wallets — a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thankfully, Canada supports the technology and infrastructure to allow people across the country to adapt. As a result, a recent study recognized Canada for having the most cashless economy in the world as of May 2021.

The report ranked each country using a score based on contactless payment limits, the number of major e-wallet operators available, the number of automated teller machines (ATMs) per 100,000 adults, and the percentage of those aged 15-plus with debit and/or credit cards.

Canada topped the chart with a score of 79.1 out of 100, which may come as a surprise to some. However, an estimated 83% of the population own a credit card in Canada — the highest usage in the world. Not only that, but Canadian cardholders can also access the highest contactless payment limit at C$250, more than any other country.

credit card mascot.png

Compare the best credit cards on RATESDOTCA

Find the best credit card for your lifestyle today!

Nevertheless, the race to become the first completely cashless society is still a close one. Hong Kong is trailing behind Canada by a narrow 2.3 points, landing the country second; Singapore ranks third by just 0.6 points. Notably, the United States does not appear in the top 10 countries despite being one of the wealthiest nations.

The world’s leading cashless countries
Country Score out of 100
1. Canada 79.1
2. Hong Kong 76.8
3. Singapore 76.2
4. New Zealand 75.0
5. Japan 74.1
6. Australia 72.3
7. Norway 72.2
8. United Arab Emirates 72.1
9. Switzerland 70.9
10. Finland 70.0

The survey suggests we could see completely cashless societies within the next five years, though it may be hard to get everyone on board with the idea.

The pros and cons of going cash-free

While electronic payments can have advantages like reducing fraud and money laundering, digital transactions also have downsides. lists potential pros and cons to ditching the banknote.


  • Digital records can reduce fraud and criminal activities.
  • Contactless payments are convenient for everyday purchases and travelling abroad.
  • Forgoing cash can save time and resources, reducing transportation, handling procedures and storage of money.


  • Vulnerable people and those unfamiliar with technology may be without payment options.
  • Glitches and outages can cause issues when people are too reliant on technology.
  • Cyberattacks pose a threat in the electronic world; no one is safe from fraud online.
  • Cashless payments have an ease of use that can lead to overspending and mismanagement of finances.

With the invention of cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other digital assets, there is no telling where electronic payments will lead. As of now, cashless societies seem like the way forward, but only time will tell how and when countries will meet this historic milestone.

Hayley Vesh

Hayley Vesh is an editor and writer at RATESDOTCA, where she uses her eight years of media and marketing experience to bring content to life. She specializes in money products, including mortgages, home and auto insurance, and credit cards. Hayley holds a Broadcast Journalism diploma from Sheridan College and was awarded the Shaw Media Journalism and Media Award for graduating at the top of her class. Her work has appeared in Global News and diverse digital corporate training materials behind the scenes.

Hayley is passionate about making complex subjects, such as home buying and financial literacy, concise and intriguing. Her personal finance work has garnered media coverage from The Globe and Mail, blogTO, Yahoo! News, and CityNews 680 and has been syndicated across other publications. Before joining RATESDOTCA, Hayley was the digital media manager at ManchesterCF in the financial crime risk management space.

Latest credit card articles

Turn your spending into extra cash with these two Tangerine credit cards
Tangerine credit cards just got more rewarding. New cardholders can get 10% on up to $1,000 in purchases within the first two months and a $125 bonus Amazon e-Gift Card from RATESDOTCA upon approval for a limited time.
Learn More
7 mins read
In the ring: Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card vs. BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
We compare two of Canada’s leading cash back credit cards in a head-to-head battle, breaking down all the must-know details.
Learn More
12 mins read
Best Aeroplan Credit Cards in Canada for 2022
Get Aeroplan points in more ways than ever before and accelerate your earnings with one of these credit cards.
Learn More
7 mins read

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay on top of our latest offers, relevant news and tips!

Thanks for joining!

You'll be hearing from us shortly - stay tuned.