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Over 80% of German companies still use fax machines — survey

Alex Berry
May 4, 2023

While the telegraph may be a thing of the past, in Germany its successor, the fax machine, is not. A full third of German companies "frequently" use this technology, according to a new survey.

Fax and printer
Over 80% of German companies still use fax machines, according to a recent surveyImage: picture alliance / Photononstop

It's a stereotype of the German business world that has two solid feet in reality — the reluctance to let go of outdated technology.

At least that is according to research published by the German digital advocacy group Bitkom on Thursday.

In a world dominated by high-speed internet and rapid advances in digital capabilities, a whopping 82% of German companies still use fax machines — a technology that saw its heyday in the previous millennium — according to the results of Bitkom's survey.

"Faced with the shift to digital, the fax machine has long been considered doomed," Bitkom's head of digital business processes Nils Britze said.

"But once a channel of communication has been established, it generally takes a while before it is completely superseded — even when much more comfortable and safer means of communication have emerged in the meantime."

Frequent use of fax machines on the decline

One of the more surprising results from the research is that a third of businesses who responded said they still use fax machines "frequently" or "very frequently."

Nevertheless, the report pointed out that this share has been steadily following in recent years. Last year's result was 40%, down from 62% in 2018.

Half of the 505 businesses — all with at least 20 employees — said they send faxes occasionally or rarely, while 16% do without it completely.

"What is most valued about the classic fax machine is above all its ability to clearly trace whether something has been sent," Britze said.

"As for the encryption of data and thus security, digital channels have some advantages over faxing," he added.

This article was written in part with material from dpa news agency.

Edited by: Rebecca Staudenmaier