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Review of 2019 Event

Cash: A Universal Or A Commercial Service To Society?

The 2019 Future of Cash conference took place against the back drop of significant change in cash usage in some countries.  It reviewed central bank data, and thoughts, on how cash usage is changing before hearing about the innovation amongst stakeholders to keep cash convenient, available and low cost.  Twenty central banks, seven commercial banks, delegates from 66 organisations and 22 countries, representing a broad cross-section of cash cycle stakeholders, shared information, experience, thinking and plans for the future.

Why Is Cash In Circulation Rising So Strongly?

Cash in circulation is rising everywhere, even in Sweden.  What was reported in virtually every presentation, however, is that the number of cash transactions is reducing, sometimes fast.  At the same time banknotes retained as a store of value, “hoarded” banknotes, are increasing and this explains why cash circulation continues to rise.  The reasons why are not clear and information was shared about how to measure and understand this and the need for more research. 

What Is Driving Cash Usage Trends?

It was assumed that the uptake of alternative payments, particularly contactless and mobile payments, was increasing rapidly.  This was challenged with evidence such as contactless transactions in 2018 only making up up 1.3% of all transactions in Germany and, in the US, which has 1.2 billion payment cards in use, only 25 million of them are contactless.  Generally though, the uptake of contactless payments is now growing fast.  France, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands and the UK all reported that once people move to contactless, usage increases very quickly.

It appears that some transactions are inherently cash based and there is a base level of cash usage below which it will not fall. The Dutch National Bank reminded people that physical cash has a role to ensure people understand the concept of money, to enable them to control spending and that it has an emotional attachment connecting people to their countries and societies. 2.7 billion cash transactions take place every year in the Netherlands.

David Hensley presented the Access to Cash report from the UK.  If the current decline in cash usage continues, 25 million people, 47% of the population, who currently depend on cash would not be able to adapt to a cashless society in the time available.  The numbers are too big to be ignored.  The UK Select Committee responsible has asked whether cash should be a universal or a commercial service?  Is cash a part of the national infrastructure that needs to be maintained as a societal good?

Brett Scott, an author, challenged the conference to consider how society has been conditioned to think about payments.  By increasing charges for commercial cash deposits and withdrawals, reducing bank branches and ATM networks, subsidizing the introduction of cashless infrastructure and the cost threshold for transactions to make buying a cup of coffee by card acceptable to the retailer, these organisations have changed reality and then claimed that people are choosing to move away from cash.  It would appear it is working.  Why else would France, for example, have a National Cashless Payment Strategy?

Where Is Innovation Coming From?

1. Better bank branches

Printec spoke about the personalisation of bank branches and the opportunity to design them to meet the needs of the community.    

2. ATM technology

Piraeus Bank and the National Bank of Greece looked at how technology is allowing them to meet their customer needs.  Smart ATMs playing a key role in remote areas.

3. Support to retailers

Glory Global Solutions explained their work to enable retailers to handle cash efficiently, safely and quickly increasing the attractiveness of accepting cash.  ADAM demonstrated that if all parties, banks, cash in transit companies and retailers, used the same software, significant efficiency savings were possible.

4. Access to cash

Two technology companies, Sonect and Barzahlen, explained how Apps could make cash accessible beyond the traditional bank and ATM network offering new routes to accessing cash.

5. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

eCommerce Mint and CloudCoin presented on their CBDC products.  The presentations suggested that CBDCs mirror most of what cash is.  This generated significant questions and comment.

Central Bank Innovation

1. Measuring, researching and modelling

The monitoring of cash transactions and hoarding was a constant theme.  A number of banks referred to the importance of collecting data, micro and macro.  Payment diaries, machine data, surveys and real life experiments were discussed.

2. Changing the denominational mix in ATMs

The Royal Bank of Scotland talked about what happened when they put the lowest denomination notes into ATMs and compared with this with a trial putting the highest denomination into ATMs.

3. Central Bank outsourcing

G+D reviewed what to consider if central banks devolve banknote sorting to a 3rd party.  The ECB had already told us that central bank sorting in the Eurosystem had declined from 100% in 2007 to 47% in 2017.  The Central Bank of Turkey has recently outsourced note sorting for the first time to a commercial bank.  Garanti bank told the story of how they did this and what they learned.

Alongside outsourcing, the Bank of Spain introduced the work done within the Eurosystem on the GS1 standard.  The Federal Reserve is also introducing GS1 and there was a cross over between the talks.

If Cash Has A Societal Role, How Should It Be Sustained?

Options for ensuring that cash continues to circulate even when cash volumes fall were touched on.  These included,

  • Direct ownership by central banks of ATM networks. 
  • Legislation requiring the maintenance of the cash infrastructure.
  • The DNB “model”.  The DNB sets targets to its stakeholders and facilitated universal ATM and sorting infrastructure, with legislation retained as an option.


This report only touches on the conferences content.  Future editions of Currency and Payment News will review some of these topics in more detail. 

The next Future of Cash conference will take place in the spring of 2020 in Europe. Further details will be announced shortly.

To receive details about the next event, follow us on Linked-In or Twitter or register for email updates.



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2019 Programme

  • Opening Remarks
    John Winchcombe, Conference Director


  • Euro Banknotes – Past, Present, Future
    Doris Schneeberger, European Central Bank

  • The Demand for Cash in Germany
    Dr Matthias Uhl, Deutsche Bundesbank

  • How can we (not) estimate the cash usage in Finland?
    Jussi Kangas, Bank of Finland

  • Understanding Cash Usage "Results of an Expert Seminar"
    Frank Seitz, Cash Essentials 


  • Issuance of High and Low Banknote Denominations in the UK
    Adam Bailey, RBS
  • The Future of Cash:  Integrating Trends, Causes, Consequences and Responses
    Amy Burr, Federal Reserve
  • There is More to Cash Cycle Management than Meets the Eye: Strategic Challenges and Options for Central Banks – and for their Commercial Partners
    Barnabás Ferenczi , Giesecke + Devrient Currency Technology


  • The Future of Payments
    Jonne Hankimaa, Mint of Finland
  • Central Bank Digital Currency - the Future of Cash
    Jonathan Dharmapalan, Currency Mint Ltd
  • Distributed Ledger Technology has Changed Thinking about what Money is. But what is the Future of Money?
    Sean Worthington, CloudCoin


  • Cash in Decline; What Should a Central Bank’s Answer Be
    Jan Binnekamp, De Nederlandsche Bank
  • Access to Cash: UK Survey Report
    David Hensley, Cash Services
  • Campaigning for Cash. Where to Start?
    Brett Scott, Writer


  • The Development of the GS1 Standard
    Ángeles Marqués Vecino, Bank of Spain
  • Decentralised Cash Management Project of Central Bank
    Alper Sayin, Garanti Bank
  • Cash Automation in Retail, an Opportunity to Make Business for Banks and CITs
    Céline Blanchot, Glory
  • The Benefits of Cooperative Approach in Cash Cycle Process and a Case Study on Retailers’ Cash Deposit Machines in Italy
    Mauro Bonaglia , Adam


  • Cash Handling Operations in Banking: Innovate or Leave
    Evangelos Kontomitro, Piraeus Bank
  • How NBG Supports Remote Areas in a Cost Efficient Way
    Georgia Botsika , National Bank of Greece
  • How Smart ATMs Can Replace Bank Branches and Help Guarantee the Smooth Circulation of Cash
    Ron Delnevo, ATMIA


  • Re-Imagining the Branch of the Future: a True Story
    Violeta Xanthouli, Printec

  • The Connection of Cash and Modern Payment Services
    Ulrike Czekay, Barzahlen

  • Disrupt or Get Disrupted. The Relevance of Cash 20 Years from Now
    Sandipan Chakraborty, Sonect



Bank of Spain  

"Amazing organisation with extremely interesting presentations covering all aspects of cash. "

Piraeus Bank  

"This was my first time at the FOC conference I was really impressed by the high level of knowledge and expertise of the participants very interesting presentations and great discussions, Looking forward to next year's conference."

Banco de Moçambique

"It was a great conference. The topics discussed give us an overview, a big picture of the trends in the currency industry. Hence, allowing CB and other stakeholders to incorporate these into policy and strategies"




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