Cash set to remain an important means of payment in future

Jens Weidmann on cash symposium 2012 ©Jens Braune del Angel
On 10 October 2012, the Deutsche Bundesbank held a one-day cash symposium in Frankfurt am Main that explored the various historical, cultural and business aspects of cash operations.

Dr Jens Weidmann, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank, and Carl-Ludwig Thiele, Member of the Bank’s Executive Board, opened the well attended event.

In his opening speech, the Bundesbank President stressed that a currency could only be stable "if the general public have confidence in the central bank’s ability and recognise its determination to keep prices stable". He also emphasised that the independence of central banks was a prerequisite for safeguarding price stability: "The Eurosystem central banks are responsible for ensuring that the general public continue to have good quality, stable money in their pockets."

Carl-Ludwig Thiele, who initiated the cash symposium, began his speech by pointing out that cash had gradually built up respect by gaining the public’s trust over a long and, at times, painful process.

The invited speakers, senior representatives of the banking industry and the public sector, focused on the current and future challenges in the field of cash operations.

Helmut Rittgen, Head of the Deutsche Bundesbank’s Cash Department, was confident that "the benefits of cash will continue to apply in the long run", even if it is impossible to predict which means of payment will be favoured by future generations.

Dr Michael Kemmer, General Manager and Member of the Board of Directors of the Association of German Banks, said that there would "continue to be notes and coins for some time to come", not least because, being legal tender, they could be used quickly, anonymously and cheaply by the general public. However, as he went on to say, the increasing use of digital payment schemes would continue to erode the market share enjoyed by cash: "Digital cash is the cash of the future".

Georg Fahrenschon, President of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association, added that the cash cycle infrastructure was not a public good that could be provided free of charge. The load needed to be shared equitably among cash handlers.

In the closing podium discussions chaired by Holger Steltzner, the speakers took questions from the floor.

From now on, the symposium will be held every two years as a counterpart to the Bundesbank’s existing payments symposium.