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The cost of using cash and checks in Uruguay


  • Marcelo Álvez

    (Banco Central del Uruguay)

  • Rodrigo Lluberas

    (Banco Central del Uruguay)

  • Jorge Ponce

    (Banco Central del Uruguay)


The incorporation of new technologies to financial activities imply challenges and opportunities to financial authorities. They are reacting to the unavoidable trend towards digitalization of financial activities with the objective of preserving stable and efficient payment and financial systems. Uruguay, for instance, has promoted the use of electronic payment instruments and tested in the real economy a central bank digital currency called e-Peso. Digitalization of payment systems would reduce transaction costs by (partially) replacing less efficient means of payment, e.g. paper-cash and checks. In this paper we find that the cost of using cash in Uruguay is approximately 0.61% of GDP. Interestingly, 98.1% of this cost is borne by the private sector: banks and retailers 77.1% and households 21.0%. The cost of using checks is equivalent to 0.04% of GDP. Overall, replacing paper-cash and checks by other (electronic) means of payment would imply a transaction cost reduction for the private sector of the equivalent of up to 0.65% of GDP.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcelo Álvez & Rodrigo Lluberas & Jorge Ponce, 2019. "The cost of using cash and checks in Uruguay," Documentos de trabajo 2019004, Banco Central del Uruguay.
  • Handle: RePEc:bku:doctra:2019004

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Joanna Stavins, 2021. "Payments Evolution from Paper to Electronic: Bill Payments and Purchases," Working Papers 21-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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    More about this item


    payment system; cost of cash; cost of checks; electronic payments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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