October 10th 2014

On the way to a cashless society.

Dr. Kurt Pribil, Member of the Board at the Oesterreichische Nationalbank

On Thursday, October 8, in the framework of the MCI Alumni & Friends lecture series, the Entrepreneurial School® welcomed Dr. Kurt Pribil, Director of the Österreichische Nationalbank (OeNB).

“Cash is something for your grandmother and bank robbers!” That provocative statement came at the beginning of the lecture held by Dr. Kurt Pribil, who was appointed Director of the OeNB last year, on the subject of “On the way to a cashless society”. In the course of his presentation he addressed the question whether the future is going to bring us the cashless society.

In Austria, the first cashless transactions were made in the mid-1960s, when Diners Card appeared on the scene. Today credit cards and debit cards are in general use, and payments via the Internet and smart phones are nothing unusual.

With the advent of new technologies like NFC for contactless payment, it is now possible for even small amounts to be handled on a cashless basis, e.g. for purchases from the local baker. By 2020, NFC is expected to be a feature of all debit cards in the euro zone.

In spite of the convenience of cashless transactions, a poll conducted by the OeNB shows that, at 65 %, cash is still the primary means of making everyday payments. The volume of cash in circulation also continues to increase and currently stands at 980 billion euros.

In conclusion, Dr. Pribil stated that the cashless society is still a utopia in view of the continuing reliance on cash for daily transactions, the constant increase in the volume of cash in circulation and also the ECB’s decision to issue new euro notes.

The lecture was chaired by Professor Matthias Bank, Chair of Banking & Finance at Innsbruck University, and closed with a lively round of discussion.