18.9 C
Washington

Austrians are so worried their colorful cash might die out they’re trying to enshrine its use as a constitutional right

Date:

Share:



Europeans are determined to protect their beloved bank notes, in fact they’re moving to have its future use legally secured.

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer said last week that the public are growing increasingly concerned about restrictions they face when trying to pay with cash.

“Cash plays an important role in our everyday lives,” Nehammer wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday. “And that is why I, as Chancellor of this republic, am committed to ensuring that cash is constitutionally protected as a means of payment.”

Nehammer said that nearly €47 billion ($51 billion) is withdrawn from ATMs annually in Austria alone, noting the importance of hard currency for the country’s 9.1 million people.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to decide freely how and with what he wants to pay,” Nehammer said, according to Associated Press. “That can be by card, by transfer, perhaps in future also with the digital euro, but also with cash. This freedom to choose must and will remain.”

Under Nehammer’s plan, the right to cash will be enshrined in the constitution and the national bank will have to hold enough euros to supply Austrians.

Finance Minister Magnus Brunner has reportedly been tasked with leading the effort in the coming months. 

Cash is king

The debate surrounding the protection of physical money in Austria has been raging for a number of years—the country’s right-wing Freedom Party being among the most vocal supporters of hard currency.

The political party, which is widely popular in Austria, has slammed any restrictions on cash—including initiatives to build a digital euro currency.

In 2021, the country was also against a proposed limit on cash-based euro transactions, a policy suggested by the European Commission. 

The use of credit cards and other digital tools have recently gained traction in Europe and other parts of the world for their ease of use. 

But that’s not the case in Austria, where cash is associated with freedom and independence. 

Roughly 54% of Austrians use cash to pay for groceries while only 37% of them use cards, according to a survey by the OGM research institute earlier this year. Nehammer pointed out that 67% of payments made under €20 ($22) were done in cash.

The country also has among the highest density of ATMs in Europe, with one available every 1.1 kilometers (0.7 miles) on average, the country’s central bank also found.

Commercial establishments like restaurants in Austria still rely heavily on physical currency, Reuters reports, and cash hoarding during times of crisis is still common practice. 

Although Nehammer’s move to constitutionally protect cash ultimately backs a Freedom Party policy, he was criticized by the party’s leader for stealing ideas for “political survival” as the national election is due next year. 

Representatives at Nehammer’s office did not immediately return Fortune‘s request for comment.





Source link

Subscribe to our magazine

━ more like this

Mexico’s Maya Train could cost $30bn and so far draws only 5% of the passengers expected

The pet rail project of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador could wind up costing as much as $30 billion, is only half finished...

Elgato’s limited-edition atomic purple Stream Deck is $35 off for Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day is just beginning, and Elgato is already dropping a sweet deal. Prime subscribers can get the limited-edition atomic purple version...

Experts worry that a U.S.-China cold war could turn hot

If there’s one thing both the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties can agree on, it’s being tough on China. The Biden administration has...

Republican National Convention focuses on Trump’s economic plans

The first night of the Republican National Convention kept its official focus on the economy Monday even after Saturday’s shooting at a rally in Pennsylvania...

Bosses and employees have wildly different expectations about how much time they can save with AI

Have you ever felt a mismatch between your own expectations and those of your boss? With the proliferation of Generative AI, that mismatch...