Fabio Panetta: Cash still king in times of Covid-19

Keynote speech by Mr Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, at the Deutsche Bundesbank's 5th International Cash Conference "Cash in times of turmoil", Frankfurt am Main, 15 June 2021.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
16 June 2021

Thank you for inviting me to speak today about "cash in times of turmoil".

Even before the pandemic, the future of cash was being discussed as the use of digital payments accelerated. But the pandemic has raised the volume of that debate significantly. It has sped up the digitalisation of our economy – by seven years, according to recent estimates[1] – and led to new consumer behaviours. This in turn has led to renewed questions about whether cash has a future in the digital economy.

In my remarks today, I would like to explain why faster digitalisation does not spell the end for cash any time soon. Cash continues to play a crucial role in the euro area, and there is still demand for it. Though its use as a means of payment has declined during the pandemic, demand for cash has risen.

For this reason, the Eurosystem is committed to safeguarding cash. We are taking concrete steps to guarantee that cash continues to be available and accepted as a means of payment well into the future – including if we launch a digital euro.