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The ICA - the New Voice for Cash

08 June 2016

 

A new group – the International Currency Association (ICA) – has been formed to promote cash and provide a collective voice for the cash industry in its broadest sense.  

The notion of a collective voice of this nature has been around for some time. But what has propelled the translation of an idea into a tangible association is the growing, and accelerating, anti-cash movement, to the extent that the view that cash is outdated, expensive, and soon-to be defunct is becoming the default position. There has been no concerted or effective counter-argument – until now, at least.

The figures speak for themselves – cash continues to grow in most countries around the world, albeit that it has a smaller proportion of the overall payment mix.

Furthermore, cash continues to be the only payment mechanism to offer financial inclusion, freedom, privacy and as a contingency form of currency (ie. payment of last resort). The benefits of these ‘nontransactional’ aspects of cash are equally important. And, as such, it continues to have an important role in the payment eco-system of the future, not as an alternative but as a complement to other forms of payment.

Association objectives

The objectives of the ICA, which is a not-for-profit organisation, are fourfold. Namely, to:

  • Ensure that its members drive innovation and offer the best commercial and technical practices to their customers;
  • Promote the highest ethical standards
  • Do everything in its members’ power to ensure that cash is secure, efficient and effective;
  • Support and promote currencies worldwide as universal and inclusive means of payment.

In terms of principal goals, these will focus on two areas.

Promotion of the industry

One is the promotion of the industry itself. According to the ICA, gaining more members to increase the association’s weight is a priority. Beyond that, however, it sees a second field of action – namely, that the industry is changing, not only with regard to the challenges cash is facing, but also with regard to business models. All in the industry have to become more efficient, quicker, and, above all, more innovative.

The ICA, it says, is the perfect association to support all its member organisations in the transformation that lies ahead. Best practice sharing and benchmarking across the industry, as well as different kinds of conferences and trade shows, will help.

So will liaising with other industry associations and benefiting from their experience and expertise.

Promotion of cash

The second area is the promotion of cash. And although industry suppliers have all spoken up for cash at one point or another, now they can do so with one voice – giving the industry more clout and resonance.

The mid- to long-term vision is to initiate a campaign for cash that will transcend the ICA and become a big movement where others will make the case for cash too – providing a chorus of voices pro cash, across all industries and across the complete political spectrum.

So while 17 of the leading organisations involved in the supply chain initially came together to get the initiative off the ground, the ICA is now actively encouraging other suppliers from across the industry, and from across the globe, to join in too.

The ICA was formally launched at The Future of Cash™ conference in Paris, France in April 2016, with the first Board comprising representatives from these initial members (a further two will be elected during the course of the year from new members).

As the membership campaign and activities of the ICA begin to ramp up, Currency News asked the newly-elected Chairman, Ralf Wintergerst, and other Board members for their own views on the launch of this new initiative and what they hope that it will achieve.

 


Ralf Wintergerst

Founding an association representing the currency industry has been overdue.

Whereas every other industry has long made itself available of trade associations when facing societal or political challenges, the currency industry has held back. But now, with the ICA, the currency industry has created a powerful and cohesive voice that speaks on behalf of its players worldwide.

Cash today accounts for 85% of transactions worldwide, and the amount of currency in circulation continues to grow year on year by approximately 5%. The industry has every reason to stand tall and be proud of what it has achieved and will continue to achieve. Currencies have evolved tremendously over the course of time.

Banknotes today contain the most sophisticated and advanced technology.  Which is one reason why cash is not only a truly democratic and inclusive form of payment but also the most secure. The latest counterfeit statistics from the European Central Bank in January 2016, for example, show cash to be 99.9975% secure. One goal of the ICA is therefore to prioritise research and best practice sharing in order to drive the constant innovation needed to keep up the high standards in the industry.

Digital and mobile payments schemes are growing. This is fine and a great help to many people as M-Pesa in Kenya proves.

But so is cash: a great help for many unbanked or underbanked people in countries around the world. A solid financial system is always based not just on one pillar alone, but at least on two. Looking at cash as well as digital and mobile payments, it is clear that both are needed for a stable and effective money flow. The ICA will speak with one voice in the debate on currency and promote the advantages of cash.


Barna Barabas

I am very happy to see that the industry has come together and that there is a common wish to share best practices within the industry to serve the central banks and end users.

The banknote is part of our life it must be always innovative, cost effective and a high quality. 

We have to share this information with the end users and we should not allow links to be made between cash and the dark side of the economy. We are proud to work in an industry that invests in R&D, uses the latest technology and is strongly motivated to do better and better.

For us the ICA is important to share information on different conferences and forums that drive innovation and create fair competition while, at the same time, providing fertile ground in which to share the results with the public about new trends, concepts and developments that they should know about.


Martin Sutherland

As a relative newcomer to the industry, I have been struck by the difference between the central role currency plays globally and perceptions generated in the media.

From what the press says, you would struggle to understand that currency is a vibrant and growing part of the payments eco-system. Much of this press coverage is generated through trade bodies that represent the cards industry and emerging FinTech sector. 

Now is a perfect time for us to pool our insight and experience and put forward what we believe to be the role for cash in the future. I am proud that De La Rue is one of the founding members of the ICA, and look forward to seeing this body grow in influence and impact on a global stage.


Eric Boissonnas

It is now more important than ever before that the currency industry in the widest possible sense raises its voice.

Even though we all operate in different domains, the suppliers on both the pre- as well as the post-issue side have one single interest at heart and that is the efficient availability of cash.

By joining forces we can open a better dialogue, not only with our customers but also as suppliers amongst ourselves and can address situations that can further improve the efficiency, functionality and availability of cash as well as delivering inter-industry benefits.

Further and even more important, ICA will be a fantastic tool to promote cash to the end-user by showing its advantages and competitiveness. We are proud to be part of this association and will actively support its growth.


Bernhard Imbach

I am a firm believer in the powerful impact that our collective actions can have in the currency industry.

As a founding member of ICA, we are proud to support the continued growth of the use of cash as a method of payment around the world.

As a company powered by innovation, Innovia aims to harness the power of collaboration with all ICA participants to collectively create new ways to heighten the profile of our industry and propel it into the future.

This cooperative approach is the most effective way to increase efficiencies for banknote users worldwide as well as deliver improvements to the industry as a whole.


Philippe Barreau

ICA is a long overdue association and I am glad that we have succeeded in setting it up.

It is the proof that our industry has become more mature and more open to internal dialogue.

The dynamics of our industry may be peculiar due to its very nature and it was important that its participants find a way to get together in order to have one voice in front of specific situations.

The promotion of cash and of the use of cash is one of these cases where we need to unite in front of the tsunami of initiatives and projects which deny the efficiency and the importance of cash, especially from a societal point of view.

We are a heterogeneous industry composed of numerous and diverse stakeholders. Yet, it is exactly through our differences that, as a whole, we compose one cash cycle. As such, it is only through ongoing collaboration and timely exchanges that we can preserve the future of cash and improve its cycle. It is important that all stakeholders of our industry work towards ensuring the integrity and efficiency of the cash cycle. ICA will be able to help in this aspect.

Longtime muted, cash now has a voice: the International Currency Association (ICA). Established as a platform for a coordinated advocacy effort in the name of cash, the ICA will be the core of our collaborative effort, channeling our industry’s needs and objectives via one consolidated and powerful voice.

Overall the ICA will help ensure an overall transparent approach and our customers as well as the public will ultimately benefit from it, which is the goal of all stakeholders.


Dieter Sauter

It is vital that cash remains available to prevent any discrimination.

Discrimination against those that don’t have access to payment cards, or discrimination against older people - for whom difficulties with handling e-payments is a real issue.

Other crucial aspects supporting cash are mistrust in in alternative payments, and that fact that many people selling their products do not necessarily have the means to fund the costly infrastructure for processing electronic transactions.

People also need their privacy - cashless activities are easily tracked, cash ones aren’t. And this is an important factor too in why cash has a vital role to pay in our society.

 

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