13 April, 2019 - Throughout the history of our industry, cash as a payment mechanism has held a strong position in the ‘exchange of value’ market and as such there was little need to encourage the use of cash – it was an essential public service provided free of charge to the people.
Now as the payments landscape has transformed into an increasing array of exchange options enabled by technology, we as an industry must be the voice for cash. It is my belief that we must do more to proactively promote the use of cash and engage with the public as to why cash is important.
While central banks are ‘payment method neutral’ in their remit to provide the public with the most efficient value exchange mechanisms, I nevertheless found the initiative of the Bank of Canada on publicising the issuance of their new Commemorative $10 banknote featuring civil rights campaigner Ms Viola Desmond extremely inspiring.
On one side of the Bank’s headquarters in Ottawa was applied an enormous visual of the banknote on the glass windows some four to five stories high. Combined with the Bank of Canada’s extensive communications campaign, the Commemorative $10 Viola Desmond banknote demonstrated a concerted and sustained campaign to make the public aware of an exciting new banknote which in this case was the first Canadian note to have a vertical design.
While the Bank of Canada wasn’t promoting the use of cash in this example, it does make me wonder what impact on public opinion we could make if a collective effort was made by organisations across the entire industry to proactively celebrate cash in the same vein as the Bank of Canada promotion.
If all organisations in our industry, many of which hold prominent real estate locations in all the world’s major cities, invested in a creative campaign that involved oversized building signage that attracted attention by utilising the wonderful imagery used on our product, imagine the impact this could have! Combined with a single positive message about using cash, this might just prompt the public to keep a place for cash in their payment method options. Given the building asset (ie, the billboard infrastructure) is owned, the costs of signage production are negligible.
Sharing the message of financial inclusion and the benefit of cash to people across the world using our collective real estate is an opportunity that only the currency community can make happen. Let’s start talking about the possibilities.
Malcolm McDowell is a Director on the Board of the International Currency Association.