Cash: sharp increase in banknote circulation in 2020

The value of euro banknotes in circulation jumped 11% in 2020, from 1.293 billion euros to 1.435 billion euros, the European Central Bank tells us.

Use of cash is at its highest for ten years

Never had the circulation of tickets reached such proportions! While the appetite for holding and using cash continues to grow (the value of banknotes in circulation increased by 5% on average every year between 2010 and 2019), the year 2020 was exceptional in this area: the value of banknotes in circulation jumped by 10%. The only year in which a larger jump was recorded was 2008, a year of economic crisis and therefore of mistrust of the financial system.

According to the European Central Bank (ECB) study, in 2020, 72% of in-store purchases (and 47% in value) were paid in cash. In transactions between two people, the use of cash is obviously even more important: 83% of these transactions (and 57% in value) are settled in cash.

Half of euro banknotes are said to be held outside the euro zone

As you might expect, cash is mostly used for low value transactions: 92% of purchases below 5 euros are paid in cash, compared to only 33% of purchases over 100 euros.

But cash is not just used to pay for purchases, far from it. According to statistics from the European Central Bank, 80% of euro banknotes (in value) are used other than for transactions within the euro area. These banknotes are obtained either for illicit transactions outside the euro zone (because the euro is not legal tender), or to garnish woolen stockings both inside and outside the euro zone. of the euro zone, where our currency is seen as a safe haven. According to the ECB, 30% to 50% of euro banknotes (in value) are held outside the euro zone, and this percentage has only increased in recent years.