Lifestyle

in Germany for 20 years

Professor Beermann, how often do you still pay with cash?

Several times a day, like many other people, for example at the supermarket checkout or at the market. Even during the coronavirus pandemic 60 percent of payments are made in cash.

Do you expect changes in the long term?

That will only become clear once the pandemic is over. When shops are closed or Christmas parties cancelled, for example, it’s impossible to assess how payment behaviour will change in the long term. Particularly in times of crisis, people also hoard cash. This is a psychological effect with a real-life background and it is reflected in the phrase ‘cash is king’. People are cautious.

At the moment, there is a total of 1.55 trillion euros in cash in circulation around the world. The annual growth rate is currently around eight percent.

What memories do you have of the introduction of euro cash on 1 January 2002?

In the run-up to that date, people were impatient and really curious. The cash launch was then run in a highly professional way and was very well organized. Everything worked well from one day to the next, and people could pay with euros. It was quite a daunting task. The banks had to have the new notes and coins in stock, but also every ticket machine had to work. In addition, all the old cash in deutschmarks had to be collected.

Even now, anyone who still has deutschmark notes or coins can exchange them at branches of the Bundesbank. Will it stay that way?

This will be possible for an unlimited period of time; it’s also a question of trust. At the end of November 2021, 12.4 billion deutschmarks had still not yet made their way back to the Bundesbank; at the end of 2001, the figure was 162 billion.

The Germans had a very emotional relationship with the deutschmark. What is their relationship with the euro today?

The deutschmark was a hard currency, and it had a very special significance for the people in Germany. In the east of Germany, the changeover to the euro was already the second currency changeover in a relatively short period of time – after the introduction of the deutschmark in 1990 following the reunification of Germany. Today, the majority of people in the euro countries see the euro as a good thing for our country and for Europe.

How important is the euro for Europe?

The euro holds Europe together. It shows how living together has become a matter of course.

The euro banknotes are to be redesigned by 2024. So far, the bills have featured abstract windows, gates and bridges but no real buildings or personalities. What do you expect to see in the new designs?

It’s good that citizens are involved in this process of redesigning the currency. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on Europe. As far as future designs are concerned, anything is possible.

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