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Austria: OENB Launches Euro Cash 360° Platform to Promote Cash

Categories : Cash and Crises, Cash has legal tender status, Cash is a contingency and fall-back solution
October 10, 2022
Tags : Austria, Campaign, Central Bank, Promoting Cash
To strengthen and safeguard the role of cash by facilitating open dialogue, the Austrian Central Bank has launched the Euro Cash 360° Platform, along with the Austrian Mint, social partners and other interest groups.
Guillaume Lepecq

Chair, CashEssentials

This post is also available in: Spanish

Most central banks claim they are neutral or agnostic in terms of choice of payment instruments. Central banks issue cash and are responsible for ensuring the smooth supply and distribution of cash and facilitating its use by consumers and businesses. But there is a clear line between making cash available and encouraging or promoting its use.

Only Cash is Real

In addition to the Central Bank (OeNB), the Austrian Mint, consumer organisations, employee representatives, the Senior Citizens Council and the Association of Municipalities have joined the initiative to promote cash.

The key objectives of the Euro Cash 360° Platform are

“As a member of the Eurosystem, the OeNB is tasked with maintaining trust in the common currency and trust in cash. Our declared focus is on ensuring stability and security. We created this platform as a way to raise awareness in society, in particular in the current environment of multiple crises.” said OeNB Governor Robert Holzmann.

Cash is Essential in Times of Crises

The cash cycle has demonstrated its robustness and resilience in times of manufactured or natural disasters. Ewald Nowotny, former OeNB Governor, advised: “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.”

This is particularly true in times of intensified cyber attacks and cyber warfare. For Gerhard Starsich, Head of the Austrian Mint, “Cash is cyber resilient. Cash payments are secure because they cannot become targets of hacking or phishing attacks; they are inexpensive because there are no fees; and they are easy and quick because they do not require log-ins or codes. This is true in particular when trained cash handlers are involved. So if you want to pay with money only – and not with your personal data – you should pay in cash.”

Cash Protects Privacy and Individual Freedom

For Harald Mahrer, President of the Austrian Economic Chamber, “Cash gives you independence, also and especially in the digital age. It protects citizens’ privacy and anonymity during payment. Cash gives consumers freedom of choice, providing competitive prices in payment services, which is also particularly relevant not only for retailers but also for small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Renate Anderl, President of the Chamber of Labour) added, “It is important that consumers choose freely between cash and card payments. For many, protecting their privacy is an issue, just as keeping an eye on their expenses. In any case, consumers should have the right to pay in cash. This also means there must be enough ATMs for free-of-charge cash withdrawals.”

All Consumers Must Have the Option to Pay in Cash

 Representing the Consumer Protection Association VKI, Bernd Lausecker concluded, “Cash is an essential guarantor of freedom and data sovereignty: the freedom of making and receiving payments without depending on technical equipment or credentials, and sovereignty over my personal data as paying in cash does not make my shopping behaviour transparent to anybody – neither to retailers nor to payment service providers or big IT companies. All consumers must have the option to pay in cash.”

A Referendum for Cash?

On 28 September, Josef Binder, the 53-year-old owner of a carpentry shop on the outskirts of Vienna, and his secretary, Sabine Hazel, 54, launched an extremely popular citizens’ petition in the Alpine country of 9 million inhabitants. Aiming to have the Constitution amended to include “the right to pay in cash without any restrictions,” their petition has already received over 465,000 signatures – far more than the 100,000 required to launch a debate in parliament. “We’re getting 10,000 more signatures every hour,” said the carpenter on a crusade against what he suspects is state infiltration.

This post is also available in: Spanish