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A Competition to Question (and Imagine) the Future of Money

Categories : Cash is a social network, Cash is a symbol of national sovereignty, Humania
December 20, 2021
Tags : Art, Design, Future of Cash, Imagine Currency
The Jury of the Imagine Currency Competition gathered to select 6 winning designs. The diverse, resolutely forward-looking images are often marked by environmental concerns as well as a quest for happiness and solidarity.
Communication Team / Equipo de Comunicación

This post is also available in: Spanish

Between 23 June and 29 September 2021, Wipplay and CashEssentials hosted a photo competition – open to all – on the theme of Imagine Currency. The jury gathered on 1 December at Citéco, Europe’s first-ever museum devoted to economics, housed in the Hôtel Gaillard, in the heart of Paris. The jury members met in a large room of the historical monument to select the winning designs.

Coincidentally, that week, the European Central Bank kicked off selecting new themes for the future euro banknotes. This will start with creating focus groups tasked with gathering opinions from people across the euro area on possible future banknotes themes.

An exceptional jury with 11 experts from the fields of money, design and art

The jury, facilitated by the Wipplay team, gathered around the table:

Other jury members joined by video conference:

From left to right: Stephen Joannon – Amandine Blier – (On screen: Carlos Almenezar – Tom Badley -Sébastien Freuler) Julie Plus – Philippe Assalit – Guillaume Lepecq

Three members had shared their votes with the Wipplay team:

Discussions on the nature and future of money: What is a banknote? What makes and will make a banknote?

Returning to the fundamentals, the jury members asked what makes a banknote. Guillaume Lepecq recalled the starting point: “First, there must be an issuer, most often a central bank of a country or a group of countries. Sometimes banknotes are issued by commercial banks, regulated by a central authority (as in Scotland or Hong Kong). There are also community currencies issued on a local scale, such as the Eusko in the Basque Country, the Roue in Provence or the Brixton pound.”

Beyond the tangible physical characteristics of cash (pattern, numerals, size, substrate), the artistic dimension was, of course, discussed. “The banknote and coin design derive from the spirit of art, from the hand-drawn and more recently graphic language. All the key components of, a currency, such as aesthetics, symmetry, colour, balance and visual harmony; this represents identity and culture.” said Carlos Almenar Diaz. It is said that a banknote is the visiting card of a country. It often features historical personalities (Mandela, Gandhi, Washington, etc.) or, more rarely, natural and cultural sites (the Banaue rice fields in the Philippines, the Great Sphinx of Egypt).

What can we expect from tomorrow’s money? What is the role of physical money in an increasingly digital monetary space? For the experts gathered that day, preserving a physical form of money is absolutely necessary because it has a universal dimension. Coins and banknotes are accessible to all; they do not discriminate, break down, and protect users’ anonymity. In addition, they convey impactful values and messages, including cultural and artistic ones. “After seeing all these interesting design proposals, I find that the sensations offered by the banknote remain a fundamental element in the essential balance which each of us must have between stability and change,” said Michelle Bonzon-Vuilleumier.

Diverse, forward-looking designs

“I am impressed by the wide range of contributions submitted.” said Reto Karrer. One hundred sixteen images were shortlisted – from a total of 581 contributions – and submitted to the jury. “It was very enriching to participate in this competition and I am very impressed by the creativity and the messages of the works received.” added Amandine Blier. Animals, landscapes, oceans, planispheres, more or less anonymous characters, messages… Many of the entries are marked by environmental concerns and a particular quest for happiness and solidarity. “Banknotes fascinate a broad audience. I particularly appreciated the artistic proposals and it is clear that ecology was a recurring topic. This leads me to think that a currency of the future will need to feature topics which bring people together.” said Philippe Assalit.

This creative exercise – resolutely turned towards the future – differs from the usual banknotes, with their patrimonial and historical legacy. In these designs, the expressions vary, the participants play with graphic codes and words. “The contrasts between colours as well as black and white imagery was spectacular.  What struck me most was the vision(s) that were shared by the artists for the future. The passion behind the submissions was clear: cash is here to stay and there is hope for the future.” said Scott. Hutchings. The visual fundamentals of currency are seldom questioned. Numerals are omnipresent, as are monetary symbols. “Seeing the re-interpretation of cash was fascinating and inspiring.” added Tom Badley.

After the second round of discussions, only 40 designs remained in the competition. Early on, the jury noticed that some of the banknotes were the work of professional banknote designers. Exceptionally, the jury set up an amateur and a professional podium. The aim is to reward all entries, taking into account the different levels of achievement.

The winners of the amateur podium: Anthony Morel (1st prize) // Mykhay Lo (2nd prize) // Cushmok (3rd prize)

First prize: © Anthony Morel

“For me, the design plunges us into a post-apocalyptic world where currency has become a survival tool. It’s often taken for granted in this increasingly digitalised world that cash still has a role in times of natural or humanitarian disasters.” commented Sebastien Freuler.


Second prize: © Mykay Lo

“This a more social image. There were relatively few design featuring people with a cultural dimension. We wanted to reward that originality.”


Third prize: © Cushmok

 “It is a beautiful image that one can easily imagine on a banknote. The mention Our bank evokes the idea of a collective, shared sovereignty. The collage between the two worlds appealed to us.”


The winners of the professional podium: Rex Garbienn Relampagos (1st prize) // Dias Nurhandoko (2nd prize) // Millerindingo (3rd prize)

First prize: Environmental protection and conservation © Rex Garbienn Relampagos

“This image was unanimously approved by the jury for its impressive graphic work. It was this image that triggered the idea of a podium for professionals.”


Second prize: Limitless Exploration © Dias Nurhandoko

“Professional execution, vivid colors, strong message in the images… The jury would very much like to see this design rewarded.”


Third prize: Broken © Millerindingo

“This one could well represent the currency of the future. It’s one of the few that doesn’t have any numerical symbols. Its abstract design stands out. It is not only aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly, very unacademic.”

This post is also available in: Spanish