Improving Cash Access in the Netherlands

Aug 25, 2021

The Netherlands’ Central Bank and Consumers’ Association have both called on the government to take action on ensuring cash remains fully accessible and usable for the Dutch public.

De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) urged payment system providers to make joint agreements for the next five years to secure the wide availability of physical money. While a study conducted on behalf of the DNB by McKinsey foresees a decline in overall cash usage, it points out there are many people who still depend on cash, and it is also essential as a fallback payment option when others—reliant on electricity, internet connections and off-site systems—fail.

In its report—The Future of Currency Infrastructure in the Netherlands—McKinsey notes other benefits of cash: it is anonymous, easy and free to use for anyone, tangible and helpful for budgeting, and it empowers both individuals and businesses to independently dispose of their money as they choose. McKinsey also notes it is the only ‘public money’, since it is operated by a central bank rather than private, profit-making entities.

These unique qualities are key to the continued use of cash, whether people choose it over other payment options on certain occasions, or depend on it completely. The Consumers’ Association echoed these points in a recent letter to outgoing Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra, requesting government intervention over banks charging customers for cash withdrawals.

Cash is still very important to millions of consumers, for example to keep hold of their expenses, or for reasons of privacy. With this policy [of charging for withdrawals], banks are completely ignoring their role in society.
"Sandra MolenaarDirectorDutch Consumers’ Association

The Consumers’ Association wants the government to grant DNB additional powers over banks, seeking a balance of the social responsibility to provide cash access with their profit margins. It also argues against claims that the new fee policies are ‘to combat money laundering’, noting that ‘criminals are not deterred by these measures, but well-meaning consumers are.’

The full, open letter to Minister Hoekstra is available to read here (in Dutch).

Last Updated: Aug 24, 2021