Joint Declaration from BDGW and VER.DI: Together for a secure and resilient money infrastructure

BDGW, the Federal Association of German Money and Value Services and VER.DI, the United Services Trade Union have produced a Joint Declaration on the availability and use of cash. The Social Partners call on Policymakers to ensure that an economically sustainable cash infrastructure is maintained for the benefit of all citizens and to safeguard thousands of jobs. The Joint Declaration is a follow up on declaration signed in October 2020 by CoESS, ESTA and UNI Europa: War on Cash- Social Partners call on the EU to enforce legal tender status of cash. Please find below the Joint Statement translated into English.

Declaration by the United Services Union ver.di and the Federal Association of German Money and Value Services BDGW

Together for a secure and resilient money infrastructure

The money sector - a valuable service network

Unrestricted availability and the ability to exchange your own money create security and personal freedom in a society. Today, people choose from a variety of different means of payment when they want to exchange their money for goods or services, physically or digitally.

Behind cash and the cash supply in Germany is a highly developed and extensive service network with tens of thousands of jobs and high added value. This includes manufacturers of cash processing and printing machines, IT service providers and insurers, manufacturers of special cash-in-transit vehicles and security technology, as well as cash-in-transit companies. Every day, their employees reliably and securely ensure that cash is transported from the branches of the Deutsche Bundesbank to the branches of the credit institutions and the ATMs. This is how the population is supplied with cash. Cash-in-transit companies are just as efficient and secure in ensuring the liquidity of tens of thousands of retailers by transporting and processing their receipts and paying them into their accounts with the banking industry via the Deutsche Bundesbank.

Competition between means of payment

Each payment method has advantages or disadvantages depending on the situation and context in which it is to be used. However, one thing is clear: cash is generally still the most popular means of payment among Germans, even if cash use has slowly declined in recent years. In the corona pandemic, this trend has accelerated. Contactless payment methods in stationary trade as well as a change in shopping behaviour with a tendency towards online purchases during the lockdown phases have led to cash payments declining by 5.6 % in 2020. The future after the opening of stationary trade, tourism and gastronomy will show how sustainable this trend is. 

Irrespective of this, it can be observed that competition between means of payment is sometimes distorted one-sidedly and citizens freedom of choice is curtailed. There are more and more reports about retailers or transport companies that do not accept cash as a means of payment or only accept it to a limited extent. More and more credit institutions are reducing their branch networks and dismantling ATMs. The rapid availability of cash is thus being restricted. The cash infrastructure is being thinned out.

Cash - so much more than just a means of payment

Yet cash enjoys great trust as one of the most robust means of payment, serving the population as a crisis-proof store of value and an anchor of confidence in uncertain times. Last year, banknotes in circulation in the euro area rose by 11 percent to 1,434 billion euros. This was the strongest increase in more than ten years. It is not without reason that the supply of cash is one of the critical services in Germany.

In many everyday situations, cash scores with numerous advantages over other means of payment. It guarantees anonymous payment without leaving data traces and enables everyone to participate equally in payment transactions, regardless of access to card systems or smartphones.

The social partners bear responsibility

The United Services Union ver.di and the Federal Association of German Money and Value Services BDGW are keeping a close eye on the competition between payment methods. Together, as social partners, we bear responsibility for adequate and safe working conditions as well as for a just and fair collective bargaining policy for the 11,000 employees in the sector. In view of the developments described above, we now jointly appeal to politicians to ensure that an economically sustainable cash infrastructure is maintained in Germany.

Because: Cash is a volume-driven business. The lower the level of cash in circulation for transaction purposes, the more expensive and ultimately uneconomical it becomes. This is not without consequences for service providers and their employees.

The social partners demand:

Policymakers must create conditions that enable cash and valuables service providers to operate healthily and profitably in order to maintain the cash infrastructure for the benefit of the German population and to offer long-term career prospects to thousands of highly qualified employees.

Politicians must also create conditions that guarantee consumers unrestricted access to their money, both in a digital and in an analogue world. Policymakers must ensure acceptance of the means of payment on the part of the private sector and guarantee that citizens have the freedom to always choose freely from several means of payment according to their preference Access to cash as the most popular means of payment in Germany must continue to be ensured for consumers nationwide in the future through an appropriate branch or machine network.

Ver.di and the BDGW are ready to continue to contribute to the maintenance of a reliable and secure cash supply in the entire cash cycle.

Let us act together - now!

Berlin/Bad Homburg, 24 January 2022