Published: 12.01.2023

The economy requires a certain amount of available cash to function. Cash is the dominant means of payment within the euro area, as the clear majority of our daily payments are made using banknotes or coins. Cash is also essential for the inclusion of socially vulnerable citizens, such as the elderly or lower-income groups.

Skaidras naudas loma 840x145px

But cash offers other important functions and benefits:

  • It ensures your freedom and autonomyBanknotes and coins are the only form of money that people can keep without involving a third party. You don’t need access to equipment, the internet or electricity to pay with cash, meaning it can be used when the power is down or if you lose your card.
  • It’s legal tender. Creditors, such as shops and restaurants, cannot refuse cash, unless both they and the customer have agreed on another means of payment in advance. For more information see the European Commission recommendation of 22 March 2010 (2010/191/EU).
  • It ensures your privacy. Cash transactions respect our fundamental right to have our privacy, data and identity protected in financial matters.
  • It’s inclusive. Cash provides payment and savings options for people with limited or no access to digital money, making it crucial for the inclusion of socially vulnerable citizens such as the elderly or lower-income groups.
  • It helps you keep track of your expenses. Cash allows you to keep closer control of your spending, for example by preventing you from overspending.
  • It’s fast. Banknotes and coins settle a payment instantly.
  • It’s secure. Cash has proven to be secure in terms of cybercrime, fraud and counterfeiting. And, as it’s central bank money, it doesn’t entail financial risks for either the payer or the payee.
  • It’s a store of value. Cash is more than just a payment instrument. It allows people to hold money for saving purposes without default risk. It is useful for small person-to-person gifts and payments. For example, parents can entrust small amounts of cash to their children for small purchases, or a person can give a friend or acquaintance cash to purchase something on their behalf. Cash also contributes to the financial literacy of children.

No. Cash will remain the default means of payment for the foreseeable future. Cash carries value, can be reliably authenticated and distinguished from counterfeits, and does not require any third party to settle the payment. No other payment instrument includes these three elements as effectively as cash.

No. The unique features of cash ensure that it will remain relevant in the future. Digital means of payment may be convenient for many people, but they do not suit everyone. Contactless payments will not replace cash as a payment instrument, but will instead exist alongside cash.

The European Commission issued a recommendation (2010/191/EU), based on a report by the Euro Legal Tender Expert Group, which states the following with regard to the obligation to accept cash.

  • Retailers cannot refuse cash payments unless both parties have agreed to use a different means of payment.
  • Displaying a label or posters indicating that the retailer refuses payments in cash, or payments made in certain banknote denominations, is not enough. The retailer must provide a legitimate excuse, such as a difficulty maintaining sufficient cash reserves to provide change or concrete physical security risks due to the presence of large amounts of cash.
  • Public entities providing essential services to citizens cannot apply restrictions or refuse cash payments altogether without sufficient reason. Doing so would undermine the legal tender status of euro banknotes and coins protected by EU law.

Yes. The competence for euro banknotes lies with the ECB and the national central banks of the Eurosysetm. In contrast, the competence for issuing euro coins lies with the individual Member States, although the ECB approves the volume of coins that Member States may issue. All national central banks are involved in the logistics of coin supply and the storage of reserve stocks.

No. If a commercial bank has doubts about the authenticity of a euro banknote it will hand it over to the national central bank (or competent national analysis centre), which makes the final decision on whether a note is real or not.

Yes. The first series (€5 to €500) of euro banknotes was issued in 2002 and remains legal tender. Between 2013 and 2019 the ECB and the national central banks of the Eurosystem introduced a second series (also known as the Europa series) of euro banknotes ranging from €5 to €200 (the €500 banknote is no longer issued). The individual banknote denominations of the first and second series have the same value.

The amount of the virus that might be transferred is so small that the risk of infection is insignificant compared to that from other surfaces that people come into contact with on a daily basis. The ECB is working closely with European laboratories to assess the behaviour of coronaviruses on different surfaces so that we can ensure that handling cash remains as safe as possible.