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Cashless Trends and Cryptocurrency Statistics

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Cash has long been out of favor as credit cards have become more accessible and popular. Then the pandemic ushered in the importance of contactless transactions, making cash a thing of the past in many places.

Electronic transactions are safe, fast, and easy. Thanks to PINs and face ID, credit cards and mobile options like Apple Pay offer more personal security than cash — and while we can recover data from your devices, we can’t find your lost change. Still, some people haven’t fully made the switch from cash to card. We analyzed Yelp data from over 10,000 top-rated businesses in 50 of the largest cities in America to find out where people have transitioned to electronic payments, and where they still depend on dollar bills.

Key findings

  • The least cash-dependent cities in the U.S. are Denver and Atlanta.
  • The three most cash-dependent cities are El Paso, Wichita, and Arlington, Texas.
  • New York, San Jose, and Los Angeles have the most businesses that accept cryptocurrencies.

The least cash-dependent cities in the U.S.

More and more alternative payment options pop up each year, and now, the majority of businesses will accept at least one of them. Today, patrons can use Apple Pay, Google Pay, and even cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to pay for their groceries or dry cleaning.

We took a look at samples of a variety of different commercial businesses in major U.S. cities, from restaurants to dry cleaners to gyms, all highly rated via Yelp. In over half of the major U.S. cities we reviewed, more than 90% of the businesses accept some form of electronic payment.

Denver and Atlanta are the least cash-dependent cities in the country, with 97% of local businesses accepting electronic payment, whether it’s via credit card, Apple Pay, crypto, or some combination.

the 25 least cash-dependent cities in the U.S.

Quite a few cities in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest have converted from cash, too. Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, and Las Vegas are leaning into electronic payments — 96% of the businesses in these cities accept them. In Washington, D.C. 96% of the businesses we reviewed accept electronic payments as well.

The most cash-dependent cities in the U.S.

Even now, some cities retain a sizable chunk of cash-only businesses.

El Paso (29%), Wichita (24%), and Arlington, Texas, (22%) are the most cash-dependent major cities in the country. In El Paso, 64% of the restaurants and nearly half (44%) of the bars are cash-only.

the 25 most cash-dependent cities in the U.S.

Interestingly, major metropolitan areas are also bastions of small, local businesses. San Francisco (#17) and New York City (#19) are among the top-25 most cash-dependent cities in the U.S., with about 1 in 10 businesses still operating on a cash-only basis.

Which cities take different types of electronic payments?

It seems like we store on our phones more of our lives each year, from Insta-worthy photos to preferred payment methods, and some of those payment options have become more common in the everyday marketplace. We know credit card payments are pretty standard now, but what about Apple Pay? Cryptocurrencies? We measured the number of businesses in each city that accept these alternative payment methods.

Major coastal cities are on the very cutting edge of electronic payments. We found New York (6%), San Jose (5%), and Los Angeles (5%) boast the most businesses that will take crypto instead of cash.

top 10 cities that accept cryptocurrency payments

Digital wallets are also great electronic payment options. In some places, up to a third of businesses we assessed accept Apple Pay. San Jose (32%), Miami (32%), and Los Angeles (31%) have the most businesses that accept Apple Pay.

top 10 cities that accept Apple Pay payments

As technologies and security improve, more businesses may start taking your electronic payments. If you’re swapping cash for cards, you can always sharpen your security with additional protection to prevent theft and fraud.

Methodology: We reviewed up to 225 of the highest rated businesses on Yelp in the 50 largest U.S. cities, for a total of 10,070 businesses. We included up to 25 businesses in each of the following categories which comprise the typical urban retail experience:

  • Restaurants
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Hair Salons
  • Phone Repair
  • Gyms
  • Bars
  • Massage
  • Nightlight
  • Shopping

Here is the full list of cities and businesses included in this study:

  • New York NY – 225
  • Los Angeles CA – 225
  • Chicago IL – 225
  • Houston TX – 225
  • Phoenix AZ – 194
  • Philadelphia PA – 225
  • San Antonio TX – 225
  • San Diego CA – 225
  • Dallas TX – 225
  • San Jose CA – 225
  • Austin TX – 225
  • Jacksonville FL – 225
  • Fort Worth TX – 225
  • Columbus OH – 225
  • Indianapolis IN – 225
  • Charlotte NC – 225
  • San Francisco CA – 225
  • Seattle WA – 225
  • Denver CO – 225
  • Oklahoma City OK – 225
  • Nashville TN – 225
  • El Paso TX – 213
  • Washington DC – 225
  • Boston MA – 225
  • Las Vegas NV – 225
  • Portland OR – 225
  • Detroit MI – 225
  • Louisville KY – 224
  • Memphis TN – 189
  • Baltimore MD – 225
  • Milwaukee WI – 225
  • Albuquerque NM – 221
  • Fresno CA – 209
  • Tucson AZ – 215
  • Sacramento CA – 225
  • Mesa AZ – 153
  • Kansas City MO – 225
  • Atlanta GA – 225
  • Omaha NE – 225
  • Colorado Springs CO – 218
  • Raleigh NC – 225
  • Virginia Beach VA – 214
  • Long Beach CA – 225
  • Miami FL – 225
  • Oakland CA – 225
  • Minneapolis MN – 225
  • Tulsa OK – 202
  • Bakersfield CA – 199
  • Wichita KS – 186
  • Arlington TX – 225
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