Germany Envisages a Future with Cash

Feb 23, 2024


A study by Germany’s Bundesbank envisages the future of cash, presenting three potential scenarios for its ongoing cultural and economic role and serving as a call to action for policymakers to ensure it remains available and usable.

The ‘hyperdigital payment world’ scenario imagines a digital-first world in which few bank branches and ATMs remain and cash is rarely used in shops. The ‘cash renaissance payment world’ scenario explores a partial return to cash, driven by its resilience (making it invaluable when networks fail), privacy, security and many other benefits. The ‘vanishing hybrid payment world’ scenario is one in which access to cash is deteriorating, but is still used ‘depending on people’s individual circumstances and attitudes.’

The idea of the future scenarios is to help set the right course so that cash remains generally available and accepted as an attractive means of payment and store of value going forward.
"Burkhard Balz, Bundesbank Executive Board Member

Burkhard Balz, the Bundesbank Executive Board Member who presented the study, notes that in none of the scenarios does cash disappear completely. Access to and acceptance of it, however, ‘is not fully guaranteed’ in two of the three. This is a call to action for policymakers, given 93 percent of individuals surveyed as part of the study said they would prefer to decide for themselves whether or not to use cash, rather than lacking payment choice.

In order to steer towards a positive future for cash and a competitive payments landscape, in line with the expectations of the German public, the Bundesbank says it would ‘like to strengthen its cooperation with cash handlers and its dialogue with civil society’. It also intends to invest in ‘an efficient, future-proofed branch network’ to ‘ensure that cash remains a core physical product.’

The study in full (currently German-only) is available to download here.

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2024