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Lowest demand for cash in 20 years

Written by: Emma Lunn
Banknote maker De La Rue has issued a profit warning due to decreased demand for banknotes.

The demand for paper money is at its lowest since central banks stockpiled cash due to fear of the ‘millennium bug’ in 2000. In the run-up to the new millennium, there were concerns that the computer systems used to run the financial and banking sector would not accept the double zero of dates after 31 December 1999 and would malfunction.

The current low demand is due to central banks stockpiling cash during the Covid pandemic. During lockdown banks, ATM operators and post offices made sure they were fully stocked with banknotes. But at the same time, use of cash dropped as people spent less money and opted for contactless payments when they did spend money.

De La Rue, which is the world’s largest commercial printer of money, said the current downturn in demand causes a “significant degree of uncertainty”.

The trading update said: “The demand for banknotes has been at the lowest levels for over 20 years, resulting in a low order book going into FY24. However there are encouraging signs that the market is recovering, with a significant number of new tenders actively underway but the timing of this recovery remains uncertain.

“We expect revenue in the authentication division to exceed £100m for the first time in FY24, driven by the existing order book, including the full-year impact of the Qatar, Bahrain and Oman GRS programmes, and a substantial increase in demand from the Australian passport programme. This progress will be somewhat offset by the ongoing lower global PC sales which, according to IDC, is likely to start to recover only in calendar year 2024.

“As a result of these factors and, noting the considerable degree of uncertainty around the outlook, the board currently expects full year adjusted operating profit for FY24 to be in the low £20m range.”

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