Payments Report 2021

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Energy consumption high for some means of payment

Published: 3 November 2021

One cost to society that has received considerable attention recently is the energy consumption for different means of payment. It is above all the extreme use of resources for Bitcoin that has been in focus. The University of Cambridge estimates that Bitcoin’s energy consumption in 2019 was around 67 TWh. This is on a level with the annual energy consumption in countries such as Austria and Colombia.

According to a report from Deutsche Bank, the energy consumption per transaction for Bitcoin is high in comparison with other means of payment, for instance card payments. An individual Bitcoin transaction generates the same carbon dioxide emission as one person’s aircraft journey across Europe. On the other hand, transactions using the crypto currency Ripple have a very low energy consumption, which shows that the high energy consumption for Bitcoin does not necessarily apply to all crypto currencies. The report also shows that energy consumption for card payments is lower than for cash.

Bitcoin requires a lot of energy in relation to card payments
Payment methods KWh per transaction
Ripple 0.00001133
Visa (USD) 0.00649
MasterCard (USD) 0.00649
Cash (printed euro banknote) 0.08
Ethereum 20.294
Bitcoin 118

Source: Deutsche Bank, 2021.