At the weekend it dawned on me that I haven’t handled cash since February of this year mainly because I haven’t had a need to.

But before COVID-19 had gripped the world, there was very little movement as regards contactless payments. While we saw solutions such as SnapScan and Samsung Pay slowly enter the market, adoption of these solutions was slow.

According to research from Yoco, however, the pandemic has driven a surge in contactless payment solutions locally.

Yoco’s data was drawn from 4 386 small business owners who use its services. The data gathered was done so anonymously and a mixed method survey was used to gather the data.

From the data, Yoco found that of its respondents, eight percent did not accept cash payments prior to March 2020. By June 2020, however, this number grew to 32 percent, a 300 percent increase.

As you can see in the graph above, the biggest change was within the Food, Drink and Hospitality industry, though most sectors saw an increase of 300 – 500 percent.

“What remains to be seen is whether the cashless payment adoption will endure beyond the pandemic or whether businesses will revert to the usage of cash once their customers feel it is safe to do so,” said Yoco co-founder and chief business officer, Carl Wazen.

It should be pointed out, as Yoco did, that cash has yet to be proven to be a medium through which COVID-19 can be spread, so it’s likely that folks are simply opting for cashless payment solutions because it’s convenient.

Yoco notes that 65 percent of its respondents would continue to make use of contactless payment solutions and that makes sense as we’re never heard somebody turn down the ability to pay in a variety of ways.

“That would mean a post-COVID cashless rate of 20-24 percent, rather than the 32 percent experienced during the pandemic, which is still a prolific rise from the pre-pandemic level of 8 percent. And this outcome bodes well for merchants, consumers and the economy,” concluded Wazen.

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.