Despite the fact that cashless forms of payment are increasingly gaining ground in today’s society, cash still remains the most commonly used means of payment at restaurants and supermarkets in Germany – particularly for smaller amounts. Cash has the great advantage that it is freely available to everyone and can be used quickly and anywhere. It is also greatly appreciated as a store of value.
Together with the national central banks, the ECB is tasked with the issuing of banknotes in the euro area. In Germany, the exclusive right to issue banknotes lies with the Bundesbank. The Bundesbank places its banknote production orders with specialist printers, which are subject to strict quality and security regulations. The national euro coins are issued by the respective member states, although in most European countries, these coins are also brought into circulation by the national central bank.
Through its branch network across Germany, the Bundesbank ensures that the commercial banks are supplied with a sufficient amount of high-quality banknotes and coins at all times. The banks issue this money to enterprises and households – this is how the cash enters the economic cycle. In turn, retailers and consumers pay in surplus cash at the commercial banks. These retain a small part for their own cash balances and to pay out to customers again. The remaining cash is returned to the Bundesbank. The transport of banknotes and coins is usually carried out by private cash-in-transit companies.
Ever since the first forms of cash were introduced, people have repeatedly tried to produce counterfeits of them. Of the seven euro banknote denominations in circulation, the €20 and €50 notes are the most commonly counterfeited banknote denominations. The Bundesbank checks banknotes and coins for authenticity and fitness for circulation and removes any counterfeit – as well as damaged – banknotes and coins from circulation. Furthermore, the Bundesbank plays an active role in counterfeit prevention.