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Austria: Central Bank Advises to Store Cash at Home

Categories : Cash and Crises, Cash does not require a technology infrastructure, Cash generates security, Cash is a contingency and fall-back solution
April 14, 2023
Tags : Austria, Central Bank, disaster recovery, Resilience
The Austrian National Bank (OeNB) advises storing a small amount of cash at home for emergencies – such as a blackout or cyberattack.
Guillaume Lepecq

Chair, CashEssentials

This post is also available in: Spanish

According to the “Cash for all cases” (Bargeld für alle Fälle) initiative, around 100 euros per household member should be kept in small denominations in a safe place. This would align with the recommendations of the civil protection association.

“It is always advisable to keep an adequate amount of cash on hand for an emergency. How much cash depends, of course, on your individual needs. The Oesterreichische Nationalbank recommends holding cash worth about twice your weekly budget for grocery shopping (or up to EUR 100 per household member). Choose smaller banknotes and keep them in a safe place. The cash you have set aside will help you meet your payment obligations should electronic payment options not be available.”

Other central banks and emergency agencies recommend storing cash in Emergency Preparedness kits.

Unlike most other agencies, the OeNB specifies the amount of cash to be stored. As a guideline, the OeNB recommends keeping about 100 EUR per family member in small denominations at home in a safe place or about twice the weekly grocery budget.

Cash Works Anytime, Anywhere, Even in a Crisis

According to the Austrian Civil Protection Association, households should keep food in stock for 10 to 14 days and 2 litres of drinking water per person per day to respond to a possible crisis, such as a blackout. The checklist includes clothing and hygiene items, a flashlight, a first aid kit and cash.

 In September 2022, the Austrian Central Bank launched the Euro Cash 360° Platform, along with the Austrian Mint, social partners and other interest groups to strengthen and safeguard the role of cash by facilitating open dialogue between stakeholders. Ewald Nowotny, former OeNB Governor, declared: “Especially in times of crisis, it is advisable to be prepared and hold adequate amounts of cash – just like we keep candles, matches and drinking water in stock for emergencies like a power blackout. Cash is accessible to everyone, and it is resilient to crises.”

“Cash works anytime, anywhere, even in a crisis,” explains National Bank’s Governing Board member Eduard Schock. The “Cash for all cases” initiative is intended to raise awareness and encourage people in Austria to keep small amounts of cash at home as a precaution against crises. Why is cash so crucial in an emergency? “Cash is the only means of payment that works anytime, anywhere. You don’t need any technical equipment to make a payment with cash. A certain amount of precaution is advisable for this to work. In a crisis, it’s probably too late and difficult to get cash,” explains Schock.

Free Precautionary Envelopes

As part of the OeNB initiative, precautionary envelopes with the legend “Cash for all cases” are available for free in the approximately 380 post office branches and from OeNB offices in Vienna and Innsbrück. Helpful tips from the civil protection association are printed on the back of the precautionary envelopes, as well as information on how to recognize a possible blackout in an emergency.

The retail trade association has promised that the food retailers will open after a blackout, thus guaranteeing basic supplies for the population. In such a situation, grocery stores would supply prepackaged food and drink packages for cash. “The food retailer’s approved plan for such a crisis situation shows very clearly how important it is to stock up on a small amount of cash. Because cash also works in the event of a blackout,” emphasizes Matthias Schroth, the director responsible for the OeNB’s main department for cash, investments and Internal Services.

This post is also available in: Spanish