(Bloomberg) -- Germans’ use of cash declined last year as the pandemic and the growing popularity of online shopping boosted electronic payments, though it remained the top means of transaction in Europe’s biggest economy. 

Banknotes and coins accounted for almost three-fifths of payments in 2021 -- down from 74% in 2017, the Bundesbank said in a study published Wednesday. In monetary terms, the share of cash dropped to 30% from 48% over that period. 

One contributing factor was stricter hygiene during the health crisis, according to the Bundesbank, which said it’s too early to say whether the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions will reverse the trend. 

A smaller one was the rise of crypto assets, with 4% of respondents in the survey -- conducted in the second half of 2021 -- saying they’d bought or used them to make payments. The overwhelming majority, however, said they purchased the digital assets for investment purposes. 

Mobile payments also gained ground, with 17% of smartphone owners saying they’d already used their device to pay in a store. Overall, though, they still play a minor role.

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