Paper Money

De La Rue identifies top five 2021 currency trends

De La Rue graphics illustrate the various “end-of-life” dispersal methods for polymer and paper bank notes.

Images courtesy of De La Rue.

The January 2021 issue of Going Beyond, the monthly newsletter of bank note printer De La Rue, devoted a few of its 20 pages to the “Top Five Currency Trends for 2021.”

Its conclusion as to the number one issue may be a surprise to many, because De La Rue says it is climate change, ranking above (2) central bank digital currencies; (3) the continued upgrading of bank notes to polymer; (4) the defense of the use of cash against electronic payments; and (5) the surge in bank note demand and the growth of cash in circulation around the world.

Climate change recognized

De La Rue mentions that many central banks now consider climate change in their economic and financial decisions. Industry suppliers are now taking actions to lessen the environmental impact of bank notes by switching to clean, renewable sources of energy in their operations. They will combine this with carbon offsetting measures so operations will become carbon neutral in the future. “We will see the industry shift to more sustainable energy and combine with carbon offsetting for operations to become ‘carbon neutral’ in the coming years,” according to the report

Another fact, and not a surprising one considering De La Rue’s business interest in advancing the use of polymer, is what it refers to as “the environmental impact of the physical materials involved in the cash cycle.” It says we will see a trend toward more “durabbanknotes.” These will need less frequent replacement and thus less transport for withdrawing and sorting them. Polymer, of course, will be part of the solution, since it is durable.

Finally, there is the matter of end-of-life destruction. A survey of 25 bank note issuing authorities showed that most paper notes are either sent to a landfill or incinerated when they are no longer suitable for use. This will change as more central banks use polymer, which can be recycled, either by the bank or by shipping the material to De La Rue in the United Kingdom, where the firm expects “to support more banknote issuing authorities recycle their waste in 2021.”

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