The War On Cash

Cash Restrictions

Worldwide governments and central banks are increasingly moving towards restricting and banning cash. Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan predicts that cash ‘probably won’t exist’ 10 years from now.

‘start preparing the ground for that day (when cash is banned), and then, when no one is expecting it, pounce.’

The Australian

In just over five years cashless transactions have increased 10 times over

The United States Federal Reserve estimates that there will be $616.9 billion in cashless transactions in 2016. That’s up from around $60 billion in 2010.

Sweden leads the charge with four out of five purchases now made electronically, hard currency makes up just 2% of the economy. The EU recently scrapped the 500 Euro note and the US is talking about scrapping the 100 dollar bill.

Visual Capitalist recently created this nice graphic below that highlights this growing trend.



Here’s another illustration for Europe.


Cash payment limitations

We’re banning cash to fight crime

The reasons given for restricting cash all carry the same tune: cash is something that only criminals, terrorists, and tax cheats use.

However, does that make sense? Crime and terrorism pre-dates cash and it will continue to exist with or without cash.

Are there other reasons?

Let’s consider what would governments and central banks have to gain by banning cash. The most obvious would be they would have far more control over its citizens’ money and lives. From a more economic point of view there are clear benefits to central banks and governments.

Discourage cash hoarding

During the financial crisis demand for €500 bills surged as savers took money out of banks considered unsafe. Since then cash hoarding has become more prominent. Capital controls prohibit large withdrawals in Greece, where savers have hoarded tens of billions, after big depositors lost money in the country’s financial bailout. By scrapping larger notes the central banks can discourage people hoarding cash and persuade them to spend money instead, thus boosting the economy.

According to the Swedish central bank: ‘The most obvious problem associated with negative interest rates is that cash will sooner or later become a viable alternative to keeping money in the bank.’

There is another way central banks and governments are seriously considering as a way to discourage holding cash. In September 2015 the Bank of England stated one way to ‘discourage cash use and cash hoarding’ is the use of digital currencies.

Allow them to push negative rates even lower

To put it simply, Governments abolish cash. You have no choice but to leave your savings on deposit. And you’re forced to pay banks for storing your money.

Ben May, senior European economist at Oxford Economics in London:

“If you are wanting to hoard money for legitimate or illegitimate reasons, then the 500 note is very attractive,” May said. “At minus 0.75 percent, there must be an element of doubt that people will turn around and hoard cash. If there were more stringent limits the lower bound could be pushed much lower.”

As a quick example say you have a $200,000 in your savings account and interest rates are at negative 1%, you’d have to pay the bank $2,000 each year instead of the bank paying you. Clearly it would be very tempting to just buy a safe and keep some or all of the cash in it.

This all ties into the point before of discouraging cash hoarding. The natural side-effect of negative interest rates will push people to hold money outside of the banking system. This would put strain on the economy and liquidity (money) is withdraw from the system. Banks don’t want that to happen. Governments don’t want that to happen.

Start with the big notes

There is a clear and coordinated global push to begin with the removal of high-end cash notes. This includes the United States $100 bill, the Australia $100 bill, the United Kingdom £50 note and the 500 Euro note. You may think there aren’t that many high-end notes, so what? Let’s look at the 500 Euro note that the European Central Bank recently stopped manufacturing in May 2016. Of all the Euro notes in circulation approximately 3% are the 500 Euro note. However, the total value of all those 500 Euro notes is very large; its total value is approximately €300 billion or about 30% of the total value of all Euros, a significant proportion of physical cash.

Timeline of cash restrictions

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have something to add please feel free to comment.

January 2011 – Greece bans cash transactions over  €1,500

Greece makes cash transactions over €1,500 illegal.

By Christos (for

The financial minister of Greece announced yesterday that from 1/1/2011 all financial transactions of sums above 1500 euros in cash, will be banned. For any transaction above 1500 euros, only credit cards and checks will be legal. The formal explanation for this law is it will combat those who do not pay taxes. But we all know this is not the case…

It seems the new world order wants to make Greece a testing ground for their new laws.

December 2011 – Italy bans cash transactions over  €1,000

Italy’s Cap on Cash Payments

November 2012 – Spain bans cash transactions over  €2,500

Spain limits cash transactions to 2,500 euros when at least one of the parties involved is a business owner or a professional (15,000 euros for non-residents). Anyone failing to comply with this limit will face fines of 25% of the value of the cash payment.

2012 Portugal bans cash transactions over  €1,000

No limit between consumers. €1,000 limit between a consumer and professional.

January 2014 – Italy bans house rent payments in cash

Since January 1st 2014, payments for rental fees (holiday homes included) cannot be in cash regardless of the amount.

January 2014 – Belgium bans cash transactions over  €3,000

In January the limit on cash transactions was lowered from €5,000 to €3,000. This applies to purchases of goods and services.

March 2014 – Belgium bans cash transactions over  €5,000

In January the limit on cash transactions was lowered from €15,000 to €5,000. This applies to purchases of goods and services.

April 2015 – US bank restricts cash payments and bans cash from safe deposit boxes

On April 1st 2015, Chase, in concert with JP Morgan, updated its safe deposit box lease agreement to provide, ‘You agree not to store any cash or coins [including gold and silver] other than those found to have a collectible value.’

On April 20th 2015, Chase, a subsidiary of JP Morgan Chase and a bailout recipient of some $25 billion, announced restrictions on its customers’ ability to use cash in the payment of credit cards, mortgages, equity lines and auto loans.

September 2015 – France bans cash transactions over €1,000

On September 1st France announced new regulations that ban cash transactions of 1,000 euros or more, down from the previous limit of 3,000 euros. Non-residence and tourists transactions also declined from 15,000 to 10,000 euros.

The limit for foreign tourists on currency payments will remain higher, at 10,000 euros down from the current limit of 15,000 euros.

The threshold below which a French resident is free to convert euros into other currencies without having to show an identity card will be slashed from the current level of 8,000 euros to 1,000 euros.

September 2015 – Bank of England Proposes scrapping cash

In a speech made in September the Bank of England’s chief economist proposed getting rid of cash altogether. Furthermore he suggested cash should be replaced with a digital currency. This would give the bank new flexibility in the event of another downturn and would allow the bank to put interest rates negative with more ease.

Scrap cash altogether, says Bank of England’s chief economist

January 2016 – Italy raises cash ban from €1,000 to €2,999

Since January 1st 2016, cash payments are only allowed up to an amount of 2999.99 euros. Fines start from 3000,00 EUR up to 40% of the paid amount.

2016 – France, withdrawals over €10,000 will be reported to the police

In addition any cash deposit or withdrawal of more than 10,000 euros during a single month will be reported to the French anti-fraud and money laundering agency Tracfin.

French authorities will also have to be notified of any freight transfers within the EU exceeding 10,000 euros, including checks, pre-paid cards, or gold.

January 2016 – Deutsche Bank predicts cash won’t exist in 10 years

Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan predicts cash won’t exist in 10 years.

January 2016 – Norway, DNB proposes eliminating cash
On January 15th DNB bank proposed eliminating the use of cash to cut down on black market sales and crimes such as money laundering.

‘There are so many dangers and disadvantages associated with cash, we have concluded that it should be phased out,’ Trond Bentestuen, a DNB executive, told Norwegian website VG, the Local reported.

January 2016 – Bloomberg publishes article calling for elimination of cash

The editorial board of Bloomberg published an article titled ‘Bring On the Cashless Future.’ It called for the elimination of physical cash.

February 2016 – Financial Times publishes article calling for elimination of cash

The Financial Times ran an op-ed titled ‘The Benefits of Scrapping Cash.’ It advocated the elimination of physical money

February 2016 – Harvard University published paper calling for elimination of cash

On February 8th Peter Sands, president emeritus of Harvard, issued a paper titled Making it Harder for the Bad Guys: The Case for Eliminating High Denomination Notes. It advocates removing large bills from circulation to help fight the war on crime, the war on drugs, the war on terror etc.

February 2016 – New York Times published paper calling for elimination of cash

On February 22nd the editorial board of The New York Times published an article titled ‘Getting Rid of Big Currency Notes Could Help Fight Crime.‘ It called for getting rid of high denomination notes.

February 2016 – Germany proposes plan to ban cash transactions over €5,000

Proposals to ban cash payments of more than €5,000 (£3,860) to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism were revealed by the German finance ministry in February. They face opposition from a broad alliance of political parties as well as the country’s bestselling newspaper.

February 2016 – Europe considers scrapping €500

On February 15th the European Central Bank President said they are strongly considering scrapping the 500 euro note.

European Central Bank May Scrap 500-Euro Note

February 2016 – US Treasury Secretary proposes scrapping $100 bill

February 18th the US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers published an op-ed in the Washington Post about getting rid of the $100 bill, ‘It’s time to kill the $100 bill,’ .He proposes:

‘a global agreement to stop issuing notes worth more than say $50 or $100. Such an agreement would be as significant as anything else the G7 or G20 has done in years’

May 2016 – Europe formally scraps €500

The European Central Bank on May 4th said it will no longer produce the 500 euro note, however it would still remain legal tender.


September 2016 – UK to phase out £50 note?


The United Kingdom is replacing its current paper notes with a new polymer version. The £5, £10 and £20 have all been scheduled for release over the next five years. However, significantly there are no plans to replace the £50 note. This raises the possibility that the bank is looking to phase out its highest denomination note.

‘The Bank of England issued a new polymer £5 note on 13 September 2016. A new polymer £10 note will be issued in summer 2017, and a new polymer £20 note by 2020. The current £50 note was issued in 2011 and there are no plans to replace it in the near future.’

Excerpt taken from the official Bank of England website.


November 2016 – India bans its most widely used notes

On November 8th the Indian government announced the 500 (about $7) and 1,000 rupee notes are no longer valid. These notes represented 85% of all cash transactions in India. Digital payment and payment apps immediately soar.

War On Cash – India Voids Bank Notes

November 2016 – Australia sees increasing calls for cash ban from the media and big banks

Following on from India, the call for the ban on cash in Australia intensified in the media.

‘Perhaps the Australian Government should take a leaf out of Narendra Modi’s book and start preparing the ground for that day, and then, when no one is expecting it, pounce.’

November 2016 – UBS calls for Australia to scrap the $100 note

HSBC backed a UBS report calling for the removal of high-denomination banknotes from circulation. UBS said Australia could remove larger-denomination notes because of increasing reliance on digital transactions.

UBS banking analyst Jonathan Mott said: ‘We believe removing large denomination notes in Australia would be good for the economy and good for the banks.’

May 2017 – Greece will ‘amend’ law to set up automatic system for mass confiscation of all and any undeclared properties, financial products, and safe deposit boxes contents

Greece is setting up a system to allow tax authorities to automatically and immediate confiscate any asset whose source, origins and funding can not be explained. Once the law has been amended tax authorities will be able to issue online confiscation notices and immediately confiscate the contents of safe deposit boxes (including cash, precious stones, jewelry and so on). They will also be able to confiscate shares and other securities.

July 2017 – Visa introduces the Cashless Challenge program

In July 2017 Visa, the largest credit card processor in the United States, announced its new Cashless Challenge program. Visa will use an application-based process to select 50 small merchants in food services that will receive roughly $10,000 to upgrade their payment infrastructure to accept card and mobile-based payments. In exchange, these merchants must pledge to limit or remove cash payments.

‘We are declaring war on cash,’ Visa spokesman Andy Gerlt proudly proclaimed after the program was announced.

Screenshot taken from the Visa website July 2017,

Visa’ pitch in India.

July 2017 – The European Union proposes ability to freeze bank accounts at high risk and failing banks

The measures would allow authorities to ban people withdrawing money from their bank accounts to prevent bank runs at failing banks. Under the plan discussed by EU states, pay-outs could be suspended for five working days and the block could be extended to a maximum of 20 days in exceptional circumstances. In other words, bank customers would be limited and locked out of their own accounts.

China, India, Israel and Sweden are many of those with plans under way to eradicate cash.

Visual Capitalist infographic

JEFF DESJARDINS at Visual Capitalist just produced this infographic on January 18 2017 that gives a nice summary


I find the unfolding war on cash fascinating and will update this page from time to time, hence the chronological series of events I have noted above. I hope you may find this page useful, though please note I am not actively watching and monitoring related news and announcements. If you feel I have missed something that should be added please let me know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.