Access to cash is paramount

A new DNB study concludes that cash still plays an essential role in society. However, the necessary infrastructure is under pressure, which can have negative consequences for the accessibility and acceptance of cash as a means of payment. DNB has therefore commissioned a medium-term study and an advice on the cash infrastructure.

The use of cash at points of sale has been falling for years. In 2012 it was still 60%, it had fallen to 32% by 2019, and, partly in response to the COVID-19 crisis, it plummeted to just over 20% in October 2020. Despite this downward trend it is important that cash remains widely accepted by retailers and the government, and that the number of ATMs does not decrease any further.

The exchangeability of cash is crucial for confidence in the monetary system

The exchangeability of private money (non-cash, created and issued by banks) and public money (cash, issued by central banks) is crucial for confidence in the monetary system. Without cash, citizens can no longer claim their credit balance from a bank. Cash is the only way for people to carry money without being dependent on a bank. Cash has a number of important characteristics. It is legal tender, is generally accepted and allows for payments to be made without the involvement of third parties. Together with other central banks in the Eurosystem, DNB is exploring the possibilities of digital public currency (a 'digital euro'), and how this could meet the need for public money in addition to cash. For the time being, however, cash is the only available form of public money.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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