Why Europeans are holding more and more banknotes in their pockets

DECRYPTION – The Banque de France and the ECB speak of a “paradox”: banknotes are losing ground as a means of payment and their holding has increased by 18% since the start of the health crisis!

Not a day goes by without the media complacently publishing the price of bitcoins whose jumping kids fascinate the crowds. But in everyday life, it is not the privileged investment of Europeans who much prefer euro banknotes, the nominal rate of which does not budge an iota, and for good reason. The outstanding amount of banknotes issued by the European Central Bank, together with the 19 national central banks, has crossed the 1.5 trillion euro mark in recent days. This is 230 billion more than in January 2020, an increase of 18% since the arrival of the Covid-19.

While it is only a question of “crypto-currencies”, of “cashless” society and that the banknotes have been accused (wrongly) of being vectors of the virus, this craze is modestly described as a “paradox”, both at the European Central Bank and at the Banque de France. Does the vogue for anonymous cash reflect a new explosion of moonlighting and illicit trafficking?

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