Eurosystem Cash Strategy

Euro banknotes and coins

Euro banknotes and coins are the only legal tender in the euro area, and cash is the only form of public money that is directly accessible to all citizens, ensuring autonomy, privacy and social inclusion. The European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks – also known as the Eurosystem – have a key responsibility to ensure the smooth supply of cash and facilitate the use of cash in payments by citizens and businesses.

The Role of Cash

The economy requires a certain amount of available cash to work. Cash is the main way of paying within the euro area, as most of our daily payments are made using banknotes or coins. But, cash offers other important functions and benefits:

  • It ensures your freedom and autonomy. Banknotes and coins are the only form of money that people can keep without involving a third party. You don’t need access to equipment, the internet or electricity to pay with cash, meaning it can be used when the power is down or if you lose your card.
  • It’s legal tender. Businesses, such as shops and restaurants, cannot refuse cash, unless both they and the customer have already agreed on another way of paying.
  • It ensures your privacy. Cash transactions respect our right to have our privacy, data and identity protected in financial matters.
  • It’s inclusive. Cash provides payment and savings options for people with limited or no access to digital money, making it crucial for the inclusion of socially vulnerable citizens such as the elderly or lower-income groups.
  • It helps you keep track of your expenses. Cash allows you to keep closer control of your spending, for example by preventing you from overspending.
  • It’s fast. Banknotes and coins settle a payment instantly.
  • It’s secure. Cash has proven to be secure in terms of cybercrime, fraud and counterfeiting. And, as it is central bank money, it doesn’t entail financial risks for either the payer or the payee.
  • It’s a store of value. Cash is more than just a way of paying. It allows people to save without default risk. It is useful for small gifts and payments. For example, parents can give small amounts of cash to their children for small purchases, or a person can give a friend or acquaintance cash to purchase something on their behalf. Cash also contributes to the financial literacy of children.

Five Ways the Eurosystem is Protecting the Future of Cash

Find out more by visiting the ECB website.