Right to use cash should be in Austria’s constitution: Chancellor

08 Aug 2023

Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer has proposed that the use of cash be enshrined in the country’s constitution to ease people’s fears that their right to use cash would be lost.

In line with a three-point proposal published last week, the right to use cash for people in Austria would be protected in the constitution. As such, the national bank would be obliged to supply the required cash flow to support a cash economy, Mena FN reports.

The proposal would require banks in the country to have locations relatively close to residents, as cash payments would need to be made available for everyone. 

Indeed, Austria has trailed behind other European countries in terms of digital payments, especially for smaller, everyday goods.

“More and more people are worried that cash could be restricted as a means of payment in Austria,” the chancellor commented. “In Austria alone, €47 billion is withdrawn from ATMs every year and, on average, every Austrian carries €102 in cash.”

Nehammer went on to say that 67% of payments under €20 are paid in cash in Austria.

“Cash is elementary as a means of payment. It is important that we create an unambiguous legal framework in order to secure it accordingly,” Nehammer added, going on to say that “everyone should have the opportunity to freely decide how, and with what, they want to pay.”

A roundtable is scheduled to take place next month between representatives of the ministries, industry and the central bank to introduce the idea “in the best possible, reasonable and legal manner,” Nehammer stated.

The cash debate has been ongoing for a number of years in Austria, with the populist Freedom Party previously demanding its protection.