This publication offers key insights and observations into the Federal Reserve System's cash practices, policies, and strategic direction.
Until recently, cash handling has been largely a manual and labor-intensive process. However, this has begun to change with new devices that automate certain back office cash handling functions, such as cash dispensers, recyclers, and smart-safes. Because cash usage remains strong, merchants, banks, and armored carriers are exploring ways to take advantage of these new technologies to automate their cash handling functions. This FedNotes paper provides an overview of cash handling in the financial and merchant environments, along with how these new devices are being used.
The role of paper currency in the U.S. economy is changing. While the share of payments made with cash appears to be falling, cash continues to be used widely and plays an important function as a store of value, domestically and internationally. Cash also serves an enduring role in natural or other disasters when other payment systems may not be available. These factors suggest that cash will continue to be an essential and significant part of the payment and financial system for the foreseeable future.