Banknotes and coins

The role of cash

Cash is the main means of payment in the euro area, as most of our day-to-day payments are with banknotes and coins. Cash is, moreover, within everyone’s reach and allows payments to be made to those without bank accounts or with limited access to other means of payment; accordingly, it is key to the social inclusion of the vulnerable, such as the elderly and low-income groups.

Cash fulfils other functions and offers significant advantages:

  • It ensures freedom and independence. Banknotes and coins are the only means of payment we can use without needing equipment, electricity or the Internet.
  • It is legal tender. Shops or restaurants cannot reject cash, unless they have previously agreed with the customer on another means of payment.
  • It ensures privacy. Cash transactions observe the fundamental right to the protection of data, identity and privacy in financial matters.
  • It is inclusive. Cash offers a payment and saving option to people with limited or no access to other electronic means of payment; it is thus key to the social inclusion of citizens.
  • It helps control spending. Cash provides for better control of spending, avoiding excessive expenditure.
  • It is quick. Banknotes and coins allow payments to be settled immediately.
  • It is safe. Cash has proven safe in the face of cybercrime, fraud and counterfeiting. And as it is central bank money it does not entail financial risks for either the payer or payee.
  • It is a store of value. Cash is something more than a payment instrument. It allows people to keep money and save it, without the risk of its value being lost.

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