Government and National Bank of Hungary (NBH) officials argued that Hungarians are over-reliant on cash and urged changes in payment practices at a conference organised by business news website Napi.hu. Finance Ministry deputy state secretary Laszlo Balogh put the stock of cash in Hungary at more than 6,000 billion forints and said maintaining that level costs 400-450 billion forints a year. Fully 4,500 billion of that cash is in the hands of households, an amount equivalent to 15% of GDP, which is extremely high by European standards, he added. Only Greece, two of the Baltic states and Bulgaria are bigger users of cash than Hungary.
NBH managing director for financial infrastructure and bank transactions Lajos Bartha said 80% of payments in Hungary are made in cash, a level which should be reduced to 40%-45%. The central bank continues to recommend to the Finance Ministry scrapping the duty on financial transactions, he added.