The National Bank of Poland has strongly supported the right for consumers to carry on using physical cash - can you explain why that is and what is happening on the legislative front in this area?
The uninterrupted, safe and stable operation of the payment system is the foundation of a well-functioning economy, which is why the central bank actively supports it, both in the area of cash payments as well as cashless transactions. These two areas are of great importance, complementing each other, and at the same time creating the possibility of making payments in the preferred form.
Cash is still widely used, both in Poland and in many other countries. Citizens still want to use this form of money, which shows that the elimination of cash would be contrary to social expectations and public interest. At the same time, we are fully aware of the significant role of cashless payments in the modern world and we support their development. This is why we also have a very well-developed cashless payment system in Poland. However, the financial system, and in particular the central bank, cannot discriminate against people who prefer cash payments, and in particular, cannot exclude such people from economic transactions. Therefore, to ensure equilibrium, the central bank must continue to meet the demand for cash, which constitutes legal tender.
Moreover, we should not forget the very important role of cash in crisis situations, such assystem failures or cyberattacks. In such situations, cash enables the smooth settlement of payments, prevents market panic, and strengthens citizens’ confidence in the state. Following the outbreak of the pandemic, demand for cash rose significantly in Poland. At the same time, there were numerous cases of refusal to accept cash, both in shops and in public offices for the settlement of public-law liabilities, which should not take place.
This is why NBP has prepared the National Cash Security Strategy, which defines the course of action in the field of broadly understood security, accessibility of cash and its acceptability as legal tender. This document was created on a voluntary basis by all interested parties, starting from central government offices, to cash processing and cash-in-transit firms, independent cash machine operators, banks and Polish Post.
In the field of cash acceptance, thanks to the active involvement of the institution that I head, statutory regulations have already been introduced. At my request, President Andrzej Duda proposed an amendment to the Act on Payment Services. Since November 2021 there has been a legal obligation, with few exceptions, to accept payment with the use of banknotes and coins issued by NBP. This will ensure that Poles have a choice regarding the payment method and will prevent financial exclusion of social groups, which is something that cannot be allowed to happen.