Economics () is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
Economics focuses on the behaviour and interactions of economic agents and how economies work. Microeconomics ana ...
, cash is money
in the physical form of
A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" is a standardization of money in any form, in use or circulation as a medium of exchange, for example banknotes and coins.
A more general ...
, such as banknote
A coin is a small, flat (usually depending on the country or value), round piece of metal
A metal (from Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, sh ...
and financial accounting
, cash is
In accounting, a current asset is any asset
In financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned or controlled by a business or an economic entity. It is anything (tangible or intangible) that can be used to produce positive economic v ...
s comprising currency or currency equivalents that can be accessed immediately or near-immediately (as in the case of money market account
s). Cash is seen either as a reserve
for payments, in case of a structural or incidental negative cash flow
or as a way to avoid a downturn on financial markets.
The English word "cash" originally meant "money box", and later came to have a secondary meaning "money". This secondary usage became the sole meaning in the 18th century. The word "cash" derives from the
Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language
French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire
The Roman Empire ( ...
''caisse'' ("money box"), which derives from the Old Italian
''cassa'', and ultimately from the
Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
In Western Europe, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire
, coins, silver jewelry and hacksilver
(silver objects hacked into pieces) were for centuries the only form of money, until Venetian
merchants started using silver bars for large transactions in the
early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages (or early medieval period), sometimes controversially referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the M ...
. In a separate development, Venetian merchants started using paper bills
, instructing their
A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates a demand deposit while simultaneously making loans. Lending activities can be directly performed by the bank or indirectly through capital markets.
er to make payments. Similar marked silver bars were in use in lands where the Venetian merchants had established representative offices. The
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
and several states in the Balkan
area and Kievan Rus
also used marked silver bars for large payments. As the world economy developed and silver supplies increased, in particular after the colonization of South America, coins became larger and a standard coin for international payment developed from the 15th century: the Spanish and Spanish colonial coin of 8 reales
. Its counterpart in gold was the Venetian ducat
Coin types would compete for markets. By conquering foreign markets, the issuing rulers would enjoy extra income from seigniorage
(the difference between the value of the coin and the value of the metal the coin was made of). Successful coin types of high nobility would be copied by lower nobility for seigniorage. Imitations were usually of a lower weight, undermining the popularity of the original. As feudal states coalesced into kingdoms, imitation of silver types abated, but gold coins, in particular, the gold ducat and the gold florin
were still issued as trade coins: coins without a fixed value, going by weight. Colonial powers also sought to take away market share from Spain by issuing trade coin equivalents of silver Spanish coins, without much success.
In the early part of the 17th century, English East India Company
coins were minted in England and shipped to the East. In England over time the word ''cash'' was adopted from
Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia
South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia
Asia (, ) is one ...
कर्ष karsa, a weight of gold or silver but akin to the Old Persian 𐎣𐎼𐏁
karsha, unit of weight (83.30 grams). East India Company coinage had both
and English writing on it, to facilitate its use within the trade. In 1671 the directors of the East India Company ordered a mint to be established at
Mumbai (, ; also known as Bombay — the official name until 1995) is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra
Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH or Maha) is a state in the western peninsular region of India
India, off ...
, known as Bombain. In 1677 this was sanctioned by the Crown, the coins, having received royal sanction, were struck as silver rupees; the inscription runs "The rupee of Bombaim", by the authority of Charles II.
At about this time coins were also being produced for the East India Company at the
Chennai (, ), formerly known as Madras ( the official name until 1996), is the capital city
A capital city or capital is the municipality holding primary status in a country
A country is a distinct part of the world, such as ...
mint. The currency at the company's Bombay and Bengal administrative regions was the rupee. At Madras, however, the company's accounts were reckoned in ''pagodas'', ''fractions'', ''fanams'', ''faluce'' and ''cash''. This system was maintained until 1818 when the rupee was adopted as the unit of currency for the company's operations.
was first used in China in the
The Tang dynasty (, ; zh, t= ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907 AD, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten King ...
500 years prior to it catching on in Europe. During his visit to China in the 13th century, Marco Polo was amazed to find that people traded paper money for goods rather than valuable coins made of silver or gold. He wrote extensively about how the Great Kaan used a part of the Mulberry Tree to create the paper money as well as the process with which a seal was used to impress on the paper to authenticate it. Marco Polo also talks about the chance of forgery and states that someone caught forging money would be punished with death. In the 17th century, European countries started to use paper money in part due to a shortage of precious metals, leading to less coins being produced and put into circulation. At first, it was most popular in the colonies of European powers. In the 18th century, important paper issues were made in colonies such as Ceylon
and the bordering colonies of Essequibo
. John Law
did pioneering work on banknotes with the ''Banque Royale''. The relation between money supply
and inflation was still imperfectly understood and the bank went under rendering its notes worthless, because they had been over-issued. The lessons learned were applied to the Bank of England
, which played a crucial role in financing the
The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was the military conflict fought in the Iberian Peninsula by Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom ...
against French troops, hamstrung by a metallic Franc de Germinal.
The ability to create paper money made nation-states responsible for the management of inflation
, through control of the money supply
. It also made a direct relation between the metal of the coin and its denomination superfluous. From 1816, coins generally became token money
, though some large silver and gold coins remained standard coins until 1927. The
World War I
World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe
Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in ...
saw standard coins disappear to a very large extent. Afterward, standard gold coins, mainly British sovereigns
, would still be used in colonies and less developed economies and silver Maria Theresa thaler
s dated 1780 would be struck as trade coins for countries in East Asia until 1946 and possibly later locally.
Cash has now become a very small part of the money supply. Its remaining role is to provide a form of currency storage and payment for those who do not wish to take part in other systems, and make small payments conveniently and promptly, though this latter role is being replaced more and more frequently by electronic payment system
s. Research has found that the demand for cash decreases as debit card usage increases because merchants need to make less change for customer purchases.
Cash is increasing in circulation. The value of the
United States dollar
The United States dollar ( symbol: $; code: USD; also abbreviated US$ or U.S. Dollar, to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies; referred to as the dollar, U.S. dollar, American dollar, or colloquially buck) is the officia ...
in circulation increased by 42% from 2007 to 2012. The value of
Sterling (abbreviation: stg; Other spelling styles, such as STG and Stg, are also seen. ISO code: GBP) is the currency
A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" is a standardi ...
banknotes in circulation increased by 29% from 2008 to 2013. The value of the
The euro ( symbol: €; code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 out of the member states of the European Union (EU). This group of states is known as the eurozone or, officially, the euro area, and includes about 340 million citize ...
in circulation increased by 34% from August 2008 to August 2013 (2% of the increase was due to the adoption of euro in
Slovakia (; sk, Slovensko ), officially the Slovak Republic ( sk, Slovenská republika, links=no ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe
Central Europe is an area of Europe
Europe is a large peninsula conventionally conside ...
2009 and in
Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers appro ...
Motives of cash holding
In economic theory (according Keynesian economics
), the cash holding of cash (especially sight deposits) is roughly attributed to three motives:
* Transactions motive
* Precautionary motive
* Speculative motive.
The transactions motive covers the business needs of economic subjects, the precautionary motive serves to hold money for liquidity purposes and to provide for crisis situations, and the speculation motive, according to John Maynard Keynes
, results from the uncertainty about future interest rate developments and relates to financial investments.
In addition to this purely economic importance, there are other aspects of cash use:
* Activation of a reward center in the brain (anticipation of reaching a specific goal)
* Expenditure control (immediate physical payment)
* Tradition (haptic experience, e.g. monetary donation; long-term reliability of value retention)
* Inclusion (anonymous payment without disclosing personal data)
* Identification (symbolic character, solidarity and group membership)
* Educational tool for children (objective handling of assets and expenses)
* Paying a tip as immediate recognition of good service.
Cash in circulation
Cash in circulation is characterized by strong seasonal fluctuations. Wage and salary payment dates, tax payment dates or holidays lead to statistically perceptible increases in cash in circulation, for which the credit institutions are preparing. Since cash holdings at banks do not earn interest and can also lead to security problems ( bank robbery
), banks usually only hold very small amounts of cash. They are therefore forced to involve the central bank in times of higher cash requirements. Therefore, the cash in circulation only remains unchanged if the banks hand over cash from their own cash holdings to their bank customers or take cash deposits from their customers into their own holdings.
The ratio of the cash in circulation in relation to the
gross domestic product
Gross domestic product (GDP) is a money, monetary Measurement in economics, measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced and sold (not resold) in a specific time period by countries. Due to its complex and subjec ...
(cash to GDP ratio) is a good indicator of cash usage and payment behavior in an economy. In countries like the United States, increased use of debit and credit cards is increasing the amount of cash in circulation at a slower rate than in countries with a high amount of cash payments. In 2018, it ranged from 1.3% (in
Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic country located on ...
) to more than 21% (in Japan), 10.5% in Switzerland and 10.7% in the eurozone.
Since around 2018, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, cash in circulation in the eurozone
has increased significantly while the share of cash payments (i.e. transactions) has decreased, known as the ''paradox of banknotes''. Analyzes show that private households are increasingly keeping cash as a precaution against crises and that negative interest rates
also play a role. This effect is also observed in many other currency areas, e.g. in the USA
Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the n ...
Competition of cash
cashless society can be defined as one in which all financial transactions are handled through "digital" forms (debit and credit cards) in preference to cash (physical banknotes and coins). Cashless societies have been a part of history from the very beginning of human existence. Barter and other methods of exchange were used to conduct a wide variety of trade transactions during this time period.
Since the 1980s, the use of banknotes has increasingly been displaced by credit and debit cards, electronic money transfers and mobile payment
s, but much slower than expected. The cashless society
has been predicted for more than forty years, but cash remains the most widely used payment instrument in the world and on all continents.
In 17 out of 24 studied countries, cash represents more than 50% of all payment transactions, with Austria at 85%, Germany at 80%, France at 68%. The United Kingdom at 42%, Australia at 37%, United States at 32%, Sweden at 20%, and South Korea at 14% are among the countries with lower cash usage.
By the 2010s, cash was no longer the preferred method of payment in the United States. In 2016, the United States User Consumer Survey Study reported that three out of four of the participants preferred a debit or credit card payment instead of cash. Some nations have contributed to this trend, by regulating what type of transactions can be conducted with cash and setting limits on the amount of cash that can be used in a single transaction.
Cash is still the primary means of payment (and store of value) for unbanked people with a low income and helps avoiding debt traps due to uncontrolled spending of money. It supports ] anonymity
Anonymity describes situations where the acting person's identity is unknown. Some writers have argued that namelessness, though technically correct, does not capture what is more centrally at stake in contexts of anonymity. The important idea he ... and avoids tracking for economic or political reasons. In addition, cash is the only means for contingency planning in order to mitigate risks in case of natural disasters or failures of the technical infrastructure like a large-scale power blackout or shutdown of the communication network. Therefore, central banks and governments are increasingly driving the sufficient availability of cash. The US Federal Reserve has provided guidelines for the continuity of cash services, and the Swedish government is concerned about the consequences in abandoning cash and is considering to pass a law requiring all banks to handle cash.
Digital and virtual currencies
Digital currency is a generic term for various approaches to support secure transactions of the public or using a distributed ledger, like blockchain, as a new technology for decentralized asset management. The blockchain 1.0 era has enabled the application of virtual digital currencies in the marketplace, such as money transfer and payment systems. It considers establishing an electronic version of the national currency which is backed by the central bank as the issuer.
Virtual currency, or virtual money, is a digital currency that is largely unregulated and issued and usually controlled by its developers and used and accepted electronically among the members of a specific virtual community. In 2014, the Eur ... is a digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or a public authority, such as Bitcoin. Facebook's concept for the diem is based on a token to be backed by financial assets such as a basket of national currencies.
In 2012, Bank of Canada was considering introducing digital currency. Meanwhile, it rates digital currency a fairly complicated decision and is analyzing the pros and cons and working to determine under which conditions it may make sense to, one day, issue a digital currency. As a threat, a central bank digital currency could increase the risk of a run on the banking system.
Also in 2012, Sveriges Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, was reported to analyze technological advances with regard to electronic money and payment methods for digital currency as an alternative to cash. In 2019, it is investigating whether Swedish krona
The krona (; plural: ''kronor''; sign: kr; code: SEK) is the official currency of the Kingdom of Sweden. Both the ISO code "SEK" and currency sign "kr" are in common use; the former precedes or follows the value, the latter usually follows it ... need to be made available in electronic form, the so-called e-krona, and if so, how it would affect Swedish legislation and the Riksbank's task. It has started procuring a technical supplier to develop and test solutions for a potential future e-krona. No decisions have yet been taken on issuing an e-krona.
Costs of payment
An analysis by the Deutsche Bundesbank in 2017 found that a cash payment in retail costs an average of 24
The euro ( symbol: €; code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 out of the member states of the European Union (EU). This group of states is known as the eurozone or, officially, the euro area, and includes about 340 million citize ... cents, while payments with a girocard cost 30 cents (or often 0.3 to 0.4% of sales plus a transaction fee) and with a credit card
A credit card is a payment card issued to users (cardholders) to enable the cardholder to pay a merchant for goods and services based on the cardholder's accrued debt (i.e., promise to the credit card issuer, card issuer to pay them for the ... charge one euro which is included in the sales price. This is why retailers often refuse to accept card payments below a minimum amount. Depending on the account model, there are also booking costs for the account holder with an average of 35 euro cents charged for each(!) account posting. Because of this convenient source of income, commercial banks and credit card companies favor cashless payments.
In the case of cashless payment transactions, in addition to the documentation of the payment itself, the personal details of the payer are usually linked to the data of the payee according to the Know Your Customer (KYC) principle. This enables the payment process to be precisely traced for the payer and the payee. The constant increase in digitization leads to a more detailed recording of cashless payment transactions and their evaluation for advertising and marketing campaigns. Since this digital documentation is usually more centralized than before, the potential for abuse increases. On the other hand, the cash transactions are anonymous, unless purchasing profiles are recorded with the help of loyalty programs based on customer cards, and keep the payment landscape competitive.
* Banknote counter
* Banknote processing
* Banknote seal (China)
* Cash and cash equivalents
* Cash management
* Cash register
* Cash transfers
* Inflation hedge
* Money creation
* Petty cash
A rebate is a form of buying discount and is an amount paid by way of reduction, return, or refund that is paid retrospectively. It is a type of sales promotion
Sales promotion is one of the elements of the promotional mix. The primary elements ...