In view of the lack of knowledge with regard to how secure each payment instrument is when it comes to the risk of permanent financial loss, a payment habits survey by the Central Bank of Malta, calls for a nationwide educational campaign to better inform the public of the advantages, disadvantages, benefits and limitations of all payment instruments, thus enabling them to make better choices.
According to the study, conducted in 2018, over a third of the Maltese carry between €21 and €50 and fewer than one in 10 would have more than €100 in the purse or wallet. The big majority (92.4 per cent) of the households interviewed said they paid in cash because of ease of use, adding it felt safer than other payment methods.
The report noted that the preference for traditional paper-based payment instruments, notwithstanding the costs and risks, could be due to various reasons, including a reluctance to change their habits, lack of knowledge on modern payment instruments, and suppliers only accepting cash or cheques.
The accessibility of online payments, direct debits and prepaid cards increased significantly between 2013, when the previous payment habits survey was held, and 2018. More purchases of a considerably high value are being paid by debit cards, credit cards and cheques instead of cash, and the younger cohort has a different perspective to various means of payment, the report noted.
A significant share across all age groups indicated they still intended to use cash over the next five years but a large percentage said they planned to make more use of debit and credit cards in future at the expense of cheques. In 2017, a good 17.3 per cent of non-cash transactions in Malta were made by cheque, the highest rate in the European Union where the average was 1.7 per cent.