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Cards, contactless, Germany, Brexit … another weird day in 2022

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Talking of Brexit I found it amusing that, when I posted a tweet the other day, people interpreted it in ways I didn’t expect. The tweet just made clear that Brits are nine times more likely to be scammed by criminals than Germans, as we are a major card-based nation.

Just in case you cannot click the link, the details are as follows:

The UK has been crowned the card fraud capital of Europe, with Britons almost nine times as likely to be scam victims than their German neighbours. There were 134 cases of card fraud per 1,000 people in the UK, according to think-tank the Social Market Foundation. This was 19 more than France and 119 more than in Germany. The amount stolen was also much higher than in other European nations, with the average card fraud costing us £8,833.20 — nearly £3,000 more than closest rival France and almost £8,000 more than Italy.

OK, so that’s an issue. Fraud in the UK is higher than almost anywhere else in the world. What is Britain doing wrong? Alternatively, why is Britain targeted more than anywhere else in the world? Even more notable, how come we talk UK and Britain in the same sentence, when these are two different areas? The UK is England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; Britain does not include Norther Ireland.

Yet, more importantly, why is the headline of this article that the UK is the fraud capital of Europe? Britain and the UK have both left Europe. Shouldn’t our headliners recognise that we have no part of the EU anymore?

It was interesting that, after posting this tweet, one of the first comments was:

Ah! Brexit. Even though the tweet has nothing to do with Brexit, Brexit rears its ugly head.

Ugly head? Chris, you are biased!

Maybe or maybe not. From The New York Times (not a UK or EU or Rupert Murdoch publication):

The Fantasy of Brexit Britain Is Over

… British identity was global, pinned to its empire. It became a nation only in the postwar years, when capitalism was organized by the state and citizens were offered “cradle to grave” welfare. Since then, as national industries were sold off and the City of London took center stage, Britain has become merely a hub for multinational corporations …

Oh my. English? British? European? Who are we?

I then noted a second comment to my tweet:

And yes, Paul is right. Before the pandemic, Germany and Italy were very high cash-based societies who do not trust cards and card payments because, rightly or wrongly, they worry it means their activities can be tracked and traced by government authorities. And yet, thanks to the pandemic, they moved rapidly towards contactless payments.

In January 2020, around 40% of transactions in Germany were contactless. But by the end of the year, this figure had grown to just over 60% with revenue more than doubling to 97 billion euros compared with 41 billion in 2019.

Source: Ingenico

You would think that was a thing, but the thing changes. I’ve written reports about the move from cash to cashless due to the pandemic, and am now finding it interesting that, due ot the recessionary environment, people are moving back to cash:

Post offices handled £801m in personal cash withdrawals in July, the most since records began five years ago. That's up more than 20% from a year earlier. Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Cash Action Group, said it showed people are "literally counting the pennies" as they grapple with rising prices.


So Britain, or the UK if you prefer, is not part of Europe, has high fraud and uses digital payments a lot, but is now moving back to cash because no one can afford to pay their bills anymore. What a weird set of trends … but then 2022 is proving to be quite a weird year.

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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