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Austrian chancellor: Right to use cash should be in constitution

Austrian chancellor: Right to use cash should be in constitution

by host

Being able to continue using cash for payments rather than cards or digital currencies should be enshrined in the Austrian constitution, Chancellor Karl Nehammer said.

“More and more people are worried that cash could be restricted as a means of payment in Austria,” he said, insisting that people have a “right to cash”.

Austria has lagged begind other European countries on digital payments, with people clinging to coins and bills, particularly for smaller, everyday items.

“In Austria alone, €47 billion is withdrawn from ATMs every year, and on average, every Austrian carries €102 in cash,” Nehammer said on the social media plattorm X, formerly known as Twitter.

He added that 67 percent of payments under €20 are paid for in cash in Austria.

Nehammer announced a three-point plan on Thursday, appointing Finance Minister Magnus Brunner to work on it.

Under the plan, the right to cash would be protected in the constitution, it must also be possible to pay with cash, and the national bank would be obliged to provide the necessary cash flow, with banks located at a reasonable proximity to citizens.

A roundtable will be held in September between representatives of the ministries, industry and the central bank to implement the idea “in the best possible, reasonable and legal manner,” Nehammer said.

The debate over cash has been going on for several years in Austria and previously the populist Freedom Party demanded its protection.

Nehammer’s announcement was met with criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. Philip Kucher, member of the opposition Social Democratic Party, said the right to cash was worthless if “there won’t be a single ATM left in Austria”. The Freedom Party accused Nehammer of stealing its idea.

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