Euro banknotes and coins alone are legal tender in the euro area. Cash is, moreover, the sole means of payment to which all citizens have direct access, which ensures independence and privacy and provides for social inclusion throughout the Eurosystem. The ECB and the national central banks oversee the future of banknotes and coins in several ways:
- Ensuring cash availability
The Eurosystem is committed to ensuring that euro banknotes and coins are available to citizens at all times. The national central banks are entrusted with distributing cash in the euro area countries, cost-free, and they monitor the efficiency of the cash cycle.
The Eurosystem caters not only for the demand for euro in the euro area, but also for international markets’ needs, since a portion of euro banknotes is in circulation outside the euro area.
Even if a digital euro were issued in the future, it would exist alongside cash
- Helping make cash services available to all:
Citizens’ and firms’ access to their money in cash should be guaranteed, irrespective of their payment preferences and needs. Credit institutions thus have a social responsibility to provide cash services, including cash deposit and withdrawal services, free of cost or charging a reasonable commission.
The national central banks collaborate with credit institutions to ensure they have sufficient cash at all times to cater for citizens’ and firms’ needs, and also to respond to a situation of extraordinary demand for cash. Moreover, they ensure cash functions as an alternative means of payment in the event of a temporary unavailability of electronic means of payment.
- Ensuring cash is accepted everywhere
Cash is the most used retail means of payment in the euro area. As it is the sole means of payment that is legal tender, its universal acceptance is a key element of the payment system, since it allows citizens to freely choose the means of payment they wish to use.
Furthermore, the acceptance of cash ensures that population segments with scant or no access to electronic means can have access to goods and services. Retailers, banks, government and other suppliers cannot reject cash payments, unless the regulations explicitly say so or the parties involved have agreed on another means of payment.
- We design innovative and secure euro banknotes
El The Eurosystem designs secure banknotes that incorpórate the most advanced and effective technologies to prevent counterfeiting and make the checking of authenticity easier. The Eurosystem also monitors the authenticity and quality of the banknotes in circulation. In this connection, strict standards have been set that credit insitutions and profesional cash handlers must follow to check the authenticity of banknotes.
Finally, the design of euro banknotes lets Europeans identify with them.
- Ensuring the sustainability and security of banknotes
The Eurosystem is continuously researching into the potential impact of the production and circulation of euro banknotes on public health in order to ensure they pose no risk to the general public.
It also analyses the carbon footprint of banknotes, aiming at finding new products and processes that will mean banknotes have the least possible environmental impact. We thus ensure that both euro banknotes and the attendant manufacturing processes are sustainable, ecological and environmentally friendly.