The Economist – “Cash Machine”

A recent article in The Economist had a few choice bits of information we haven’t come across yet. My notes:

  • Although demand for physical cash had been in decline over the course of the 20th century (due to the growing popularity of checks and then credit cards), there was a spike in demand for paper currency after the global financial crash of 2008, and that increased demand has been sustained since then.
  • Private printers/makers of paper have only a small percentage of the market for currency production (because 85% of it is taken care of by state-owned facilities). “Small countries are more likely to contract out banknote supply to commercial printers, who can harness economies of scale.”
  • Things to think about when designing and producing paper money: “Their challenge is to provide hundreds of millions of perfect copies of a product that is cheap to make but impossible to fake. Notes are often folded in half, so the security strip should never be in the middle.”
  • When it was contracted to produce the new Iraqi dinar in a short period of time, De La Rue’s “plants in Britain, Kenya, Malta and Sri Lanka switched to a seven-day working week to meet the deadline, and the firm chartered 27 Boeing 747s to deliver the freshly printed banknotes.”
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