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Cash transactions are way down. These advocates say the feds need to do something

A consumer group is urgently calling on the federal government to follow other jurisdictions in the U.S and Europe and bring in legislation to stem the slide toward a cashless society.

Only 10 per cent of transactions in Canada today are done using cash, according to Carlos Castiblanco, an economist with the group Option Consommateurs.

«There is a need to protect cash right now before more merchants start refusing [it],» Castiblanco recently told CBC Radio's

It's critical to act now, he added, before retailers begin removing all the infrastructure required to store and maintain physical money.

«They are already used to dealing with cash,» he said. «So this is the moment to act, before it is more complicated.»

In a report called «Will cash be a thing of the past?», Option Consommateurs published one of the first deep dives into who is still using coins and paper money.

'Solid demand' for cash

A recent online poll of some 1,500 people commissioned by a different group, Payments Canada, found that a majority of respondents were worried about the prospect of cashless stores and want to maintain the option to use cash — which is free from bank fees, isn't susceptible to privacy breaches and can be used during internet outages.

«There's still very solid demand for cash,» said Sharon Kozicki, the deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, in a recent interview with CBC.

The bank closely tracks how money gets used, Kozicki said, with the use of cash actually rising at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While that growth has slowed, Kozicki said there's still an «overall general increase that suggests people still want it.»

Even a report commissioned by the Bank of Canada suggests it's time to protect access to money.

That report,

Read more on cbc.ca