Completed Research Activities

Main Content

Money habits survey (Funded by Bank of Canada)

This study examined the use of bank note readers, shopping habits, financial literacy and attitudes toward money of blind and partially sighted Canadians.
• The money habits study closed in April 2018, with 188 responses collected over the phone in French and English.

Key findings

Denomination methods

  • 73% of the sample use the large numeral feature, denomination (colour), and third-party verification as their primary method determining the face value of bank notes.
  • only 14% of smartphone users have installed an app to determine the value of currency. The main ones are Seeing AI and TapTapSee.

Bank note reader

  • one in five own a bank-note reader.
  • 44% of bank note reader owners were 65-plus.
  • Of these owners, 9 in 10 use their reader only sparingly and mainly at home.
  • Owners of bank-note readers use tactile feature, the bank note reader and third-party verification as the main ways of determining face value.


  • Almost 65% own a smartphone.
  • Those under 55 are much more likely to have a smartphone or tablet than those 55 and older.

Financial activity and literacy

  • Two-thirds of households have a budget, and 9 in 10 say they have a reliable and regular income.
  • The median household income was $50,000. The Canadian median household income is $70,366.
  • About one in four have experienced income shortfalls in the past 12 months. While four in 10 claim they can cover living expenses for 12 months, three in 10 could only cover three months or less.
  • Most have a careful and conservative approach to finances.
  • Half achieved “financially literate” and half achieved “moderately literate” on the financial literacy test.

Shopping behavior and payment method

In the past 12 months, 40% of shopping payments were made in cash, in comparison to 31% in the Canadian population. Most of the sample used cash, credit and debit as the main ways to pay.

  • Most withdraw cash once a month, or more often.
  • Most shop at brick-and-mortar stores. Online shopping accounts for 16% of past 12-month shopping
  • Smartphone users also shop online (20% of their shopping volume is done online), more than those who do not own a smartphone (7% of their shopping volume is done online).