Global war on cash: Switzerland bucks the global trend by maintaining a cash tradition

Anti-cash movement is all official and moving at a rapid pace.  There are rumors that Euroland is attempting tax on ATMS.

But then some countries are managing to maintain their sanity and believe in cash tradition. If the country happens to be Switzerland, it is a big setback for the anti-cash movement.

The Swiss are rarely late. But a new series of bank notes has been in the making since 2010. The new Swiss franc notes are finally being released, starting with the 50-franc bill rolled out earlier this year.

This latest series of Swiss banknotes arrives as alternative forms of payment are gaining popularity worldwide and cash, particularly in high-denomination notes, is being closely monitored to prevent counterfeiting and crime.

In Switzerland, however, tradition trumps trend. Cash remains the preferred method of payment and is unlikely to lose that position anytime soon. In fact, banknote circulation has increased from a nominal value of 40 billion francs in circulation in 2007 to more than 65 billion in 2015.

“Despite rapid technological developments in the payments arena, cash has yet to be superseded; indeed, it is still a widely used and popular option in Switzerland,” said Swiss National Bank Chairman Thomas Jordan earlier this year.

A recent study by the Bank for International Settlements confirms this trend: the ratio of credit card payments to GDP in Switzerland is only 10 percent, compared with 25 percent in Sweden and 34 percent in the United Kingdom.

The thinking is more on design of the currency:

The Swiss may not be in a rush to change the way they use banknotes, but it’s a different story when it comes to designing them. The new series has moved away from depicting well-known Swiss personalities in favor of more nuanced and abstract concepts.

Under the theme of “the many facets of Switzerland,” each note displays a different concept from a Swiss perspective. “Each characteristic is communicated via an action, a Swiss location, and various graphic elements,” according to the central bank.

The 50-franc note, which previously portrayed Dada artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp (the only woman in the old series of eight notes), now uses wind as the key motif to symbolize the wealth of experiences Switzerland has to offer, represented by a dandelion and a globe on the front and a paraglider traversing the Alps on the back. Other notes will embody time, water, matter, and language.

The new banknotes also include tactile features to help visually impaired people distinguish between the different denominations.

While the final design of the next banknote in the series remains to be seen—the 20-franc note is scheduled for release in 2017—it is safe to say that Switzerland will continue doing some things differently so that other traditions can be preserved.


I don’t know but we get too badly carried away by technology hype. I am sure there will be serious unintended (and intended) consequences of this digital drive. What should have moved as a gradual process has been made way too disruptive.

Infact, one big question is what prevents the governments from banning/restricting digital payments in future?


One Response to “Global war on cash: Switzerland bucks the global trend by maintaining a cash tradition”

  1. Shekhar Midthanpally Says:

    only when 007’s feel the pain. Bonds use cash, not plastic! 😛

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