Denis Beau: Money and payments in the digital age

Speech by Mr Denis Beau, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of France, at the Southern Brittany University, Lorient, 10 November 2023.

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

Central bank speech  | 
13 November 2023

I'd like to begin by thanking you for inviting me here today. I'm delighted to have this opportunity to talk with you about money and payments, which are undergoing sweeping changes in the digital age. Part of our job as a central bank is to support the transformations that means of payment, that is, cash – banknotes and coins – as well as cashless instruments, are experiencing as a result of technological developments and societal changes. At the Banque de France, we are strongly committed to ensuring that payment instruments remain available, accessible and secure, while also protecting consumers' freedom of choice. So, what trends are we observing in means of payment, and what issues do these developments raise?

I. What trends are we seeing in the fast-changing retail payment ecosystem?

A. General trends in the payments ecosystem

  • Use of cash has fallen steeply in recent years. Cash is still the number-one payment instrument and accounted for 50% of point of sale (POS) transactions in France in 2022 and 59% in the euro area.1 However, this share is falling steeply and has declined by 7 percentage points in France over the last three years and by 14 points in the euro area.
  • The decline is part of a long-term trend: with the impact of observed changes to consumer habits and technological innovation in the field of payments, use of cash in transactions has been on a steady decline, while the share of electronic means of payment has risen.