Strong interest in cash management topics during the pandemic

Person im Home office ©Gudrun Stepper
Thomas Langer in home office

2020 will be remembered for a long time to come, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing significant change to both our personal lives and the world of work. Demand for bilateral cooperation between central banks in the field of cash management has also seen change – it has risen sharply.

Demand for bilateral cooperation high

Following the implementation of 16 measures in 2019 (compared with eight in 2018), bilateral cooperation notched up 32 activities last year, with two projects being carried out in a traditional setting and 30 in online formats. Only one-third of the total of 45 requests required the participants’ physical attendance and therefore had to be postponed until after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

And the range of interests is wide-ranging,” enthuses Thomas Langer, a specialist lecturer and senior advisor on cash management at the Bundesbank’s Centre for International Central Bank Dialogue (CIC). Questions about setting up a modern cash centre take the number one spot, followed by the topic of IT applications for cash payments, with cash processing in third place. In 2020, there were requests for cooperation from 14 central banks, with seven from Asia, two from Africa and five from eastern Europe. The table shows the requested topics.

Grafik Required topics for bilateral cooperation in 2020 ©Thomas Langer
For Mr Langer, this is a journey taking him back over his own career, as in the 16-plus years prior to his current role he was the head of section for “Infrastructure and automation of cash processing, video technology” as well as “IT applications for cash payment operations”. As deputy head of division, he was also responsible for branch operations and was part of the project team involved in setting up a modern cash centre.

New online courses highly recommended

Grafik Current online courses on cash management ©Thomas Langer
Unfortunately, the four planned international central bank courses on cash management topics, which were scheduled as face-to-face events in Frankfurt am Main, Munich and Mainz in 2020, had to be cancelled. However, October 2020 saw the launch of a series of substitute online courses, which runs until April 2021.

Of the 20 planned events in total, half were already held in 2020, with 347 participants from 32 central banks. The lion's share of participating central banks were from Asia (13 ), followed by Europe (10), Africa (6) and Central and South America (3).

Grafik Structure of participants ©Thomas Langer
Combating the current pandemic was the topic that attracted the greatest interest, followed by IT applications, cash automation and setting up modern cash centres. The courses were attended by experts and senior experts at the general administrative level as well as by senior managers (board members, directors general, heads of division, heads of section). The courses received a very positive recommendation rate of 100%.

Globally connected and working from home

In the old days, travelling around the world in 80 days was a sensation, and today we exchange ideas across the globe in less than 80 milliseconds,” explains Thomas Langer enthusiastically; it’s thanks to digitalisation and our IT department. Most participants tune in from their home, not only due to the pandemic, but also because of their local time. At 13:30, the host at the CIC greets the course participant from Central America, where it is 6:30, with “Good morning, Mexico”, while another participant from the Philippines has already completed a long working day, it being 20:30 her time.

We are delighted that the online courses have been so well received. Nevertheless, we hope that it will be possible to meet in person again soon so that all topics can be covered. In the long run there are limits to what can be achieved through virtual networking alone. However, it is clear that a new format has become established, enriching the dialogue between international central banks.

Graphics: Thomas Langer
Photo: Gudrun Stepper