New research shows banknotes consumption to remain vital even as cash cycles undergo profound change across the next decade

The number of banknotes in circulation worldwide will grow by an estimated 5% per annum (2016-2026) according to the latest research from Smithers Pira.

The effect of the increase of banknotes in circulation is broadly reflected across all markets, and the latest Smithers market technology report – Fit for Circulation: The Future Lifecycles of Currency to 2026 – predicts this will see 943 billion banknotes and 179 billion coins in use worldwide by 2026.

Smithers’ analysis tracks how this will occur against a backdrop of rapid change in how issuing authorities, commercial banks, cash-in-transit companies, and consumers handle cash. This is being driven by a series of technical and policy developments that will prompt significant evolution in national cash cycles, as all participants collaborate to ensure their currencies remain fit for circulation.

Among the most important trends analysed and contextualised by Smithers Pira’s new publication are:

  • The challenge of electronic and increasingly smart device payments
  • Rising automation in cash cycles – with more ATMs and cash recyclers, and high-throughput cash centre processing machines
  • The computerisation and standardisation of cash shipments
  • The wider deployment of a new generation of anti-theft technologies
  • The implications of price rounding policies on minted coin volumes and seigniorage
  • The integration of banknote and coins features – including polymer substrate notes

Fit for Circulation: The Future Lifecycles of Currency to 2026 forecasts cash will continue to be the key medium for payment and the storage of value. To do this it gives in-depth analysis of evolution across the next 10 years for the cash cycles of three example countries – German, Poland, and Brazil.

Modernisation of the cash cycle and combined cash infrastructure will lead to higher specialisation and consolidation. This centralisation will lead to a reduced number of highly automated cash centres, which will have to be located in metropolitan hubs that are able to handle higher cash throughputs.Partnerships between key players along the cash supply chain can be foreseen in countries developing towards the next level of modernisation. The selected cash cycles – Brazil, Germany, and Poland – illustrate such future trend and reflect the different strategies of national central banks (NCBs) and the competitive environment in the commercial sector in detail.

Jens Eberhardt Report Author

Growth of non-cash payments across the 2016-2026 period will vary between countries; with contactless cards, electronic money, and digital wallets are key examples of potentially disruptive future technology seeing wider use. Non-bank players are also challenging the traditional banking landscape, by offering new digitalised financial services mainly in combination with mobile devices. Although virtual currencies, like Bitcoin, will remain a niche payment method for the foreseeable future.

The market technology report – Fit for Circulation: The Future Lifecycles of Currency to 2026 – is based on extensive primary research conducted with key decision makers and specialists at central banks, technology supplies, and leading industry consultants.

This is supported by extensive secondary research on the future of cash cycles in the form of official and private databases, supplier websites and brochures, technical articles, papers and conference proceedings.

Key data on future currency print volumes and cash cycle strategies are provided to contextualise and illustrate the transformative trends in this dynamic marketplace.


Fit for Circulation: The Future Lifecycles of Currency to 2026 is available for £4,200.
For press enquiries or a more detailed article, please contact Julie Bostock:
Tel: +44 (0) 1372 802 035 
jbostock@smithers.com