THE LEX COLUMN: Regulators must get a grip on digital currencies
The shift away from cash has implications for central banks, banking authorities and banknote printers
Facebook’s digital currency plan suggests a cashless world is moving closer. Cash is rapidly falling out of favour, though its use increased in value terms after the global financial crisis. Money handling is costly. Large-denomination notes aid criminals. In fast-growth countries, consumers have already leapfrogged traditional banking to mobile payments. Think China’s WeChat Pay or Kenya’s M-Pesa.
The shift away from cash has implications for regulators and banknote printers. Unsurprisingly, banknote manufacturing is in trouble. Shares in the UK’s De La Rue have fallen 55% in two years. The Swiss National Bank spent Sf20m in 2017 bailing out a supplier of banknote materials.