Two years of the COVID-19 crisis certainly transformed the economic system, but as the Financial Stability Board (FSB) noted, it was weathered “thanks to … resilience, supported by the G20 reforms, and the swift, determined and bold international response.”1 Cash, currently the only public currency, proved particularly resilient during the coronavirus pandemic, and by August 2021, the number of people relying on paper money was almost back at pre-pandemic levels, despite a rise in the use of contactless payments, according to the numbers from the Bank of Canada.2 Moreover, the amount of cash in circulation is still growing. The ECB commented on the “paradox of banknotes” in the euro area: the demand for euro banknotes has constantly increased, while cash transactions have decreased.3 Indeed, cash in circulation in the eurozone rose 7.9% in the period February 2021–February 2022.4
There are multiple reasons for cash’s resilience and ongoing relevance in an increasingly digital world. Cash is a secure and universal payment method. It provides privacy in an era of rising fraud and personal data breaches. It is free of charge for consumers, ensures financial and social inclusion, and is tangible. And in an increasingly technological and uncertain world, the psychology of tangibility is not to be underestimated.